The well- known NGO ChemSec published an important new report last month, ‘Unlock the market’.  ChemSec states “Economic incentives that support companies who are moving away from hazardous chemicals can stimulate the market transition towards sustainability more efficiently”, on its web site, at

The report has been written by eftec, a consultancy with specialised knowledge in economic issues related to chemicals. Use the ChemSec link above to download a copy.

The report is a stimulating contribution to the development of the EU’s chemicals strategy for sustainability. 

The main case study concludes that it is necessary to make authorisation of hazardous substances more painful! Economic incentives are needed to:

  • Avoid the costs of authorisation by having alternatives available;
  • Maintain business continuity with new substances;
  • Develop new markets.

At the same time, companies seeking authorisation must not gain the authorisations without meeting all the criteria.

There are many other economic instruments that could be used to encourage innovation. The report suggests a few: 

  • Stronger restrictions on hazardous substances;
  • spreading the cost of innovation across the companies that could gain; 
  • wider tax benefits for innovators;
  • higher taxes on hazardous substances;
  • better dissemination of information about alternatives in supply chains.

Reduction of costs in the registration process for non-hazardous substances would be a huge help, in my view, although that is not discussed in the report. I fear that radical change will not happen until this happens.

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