Last reviewed 18 November 2020

The European Commission’s new chemicals strategy proposes to ban the most toxic substances by default, authorising them only on a case-by-case basis when they are proven to be indispensable to society.

The new strategy aims to be active rather than reactive and would stop the most hazardous substances from entering the EU market before they’re fully assessed, rather than removing them if found to be harmful.

Bans will apply in priority for products such as children’s toys, textiles, cosmetics, detergents or furniture to which consumers are the most frequently exposed, the Commission indicated.

The EU’s strategy is significant for the UK. Many of the issues addressed in the EU’s approach, such as those of the impact of chemical mixtures on human health, concerns related to endocrine disruptors and the use of potentially toxic substances in furniture and household goods will likely be addressed in the UK’s forthcoming Chemicals Strategy that will form the basis for the UK to develop a non-toxic environment by setting out a clear, ambitious vision for the UK’s chemical environment. The UK’s Chemicals Strategy is also expected to lay out a plan for remediation of regulated substances in the environment with binding targets.