The British Ministry for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has developped a new chemicals strategy for England. The ministry has summarized the central points of the approach in the 146-page report: “Our Waste, Our Resources: A Strategy for England”. The core of the strategy involves a more-sustainable approach to dealing with chemicals and how to remove obstacles to product recycling. The goals thereby align with the document that United Kingdom published in January: “A Green Future: Our 25 Year Plan to Improve the Environment”.
In the forward, secretary of state Michael Gove writes that withdrawal from the EU on March 29 “is an opportunity to refresh and renew our environmental policy and show domestic and international leadership”.
The authors state that some 80% of the environmental damage caused by waste can be avoided by more-careful product design and more-thoughtful selection of materials and chemicals.
About 140,000 industrial chemicals are in circulation today, and many of them hinder an effective circular economy. That’s why measures need to be taken that can help identify and trace chemicals in the supply chain better.
For example, DEFRA seeks to support the goals of the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM), a framework agreed to in 2006 on a global chemicals strategy that promoted sustainable management of chemicals. The core of the agreement has a special focus on finding solutions for avoiding the use of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in products. Furthermore, say the authors, it is important to identify SVHCs. DEFRA seeks to support all those involved in this work.
It will also support implementation of the Waste Framework Directive. For example, DEFRA will soon publish guidelines on the ideal way to deal with hazardous waste and the best overall environmental option (BOEO) for the companies involved (see Chapter 3.2.6.).
In an article in Chemical Watch, Michael Warhurst, executive director of the British non-profit CHEM Trust, called for following all EU decisions on REACH and the related regulations to maintain the best-possible safety standards. He also expressly welcomed the idea of manufacturers assuming more responsibility for dealing with questionable chemicals, such as brominated flame retardants, in furniture and building materials.
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