Helsinki Chemicals Forum Announces Themes for 2019

HCF brochure image

Stakeholders connected with the global chemicals industry will gather in Helsinki, Finland on 23-24 May this year to attend the 11th annual Helsinki Chemicals Forum (HCF).

This year’s HCF will cover five themes: risk management options for chemicals of concern, the grouping of chemical substances, measuring the performance of different chemical management systems, plastics and circularity, and the quality of and access to data on chemicals.

A key gathering for chemicals safety professionals, HCF promotes chemicals safety and chemicals management globally. The two-day event is built around high-profile panels and keynote presentations as well as related debates. It is organized by the Chemicals Forum Association in co-operation with the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), the European Commission, the European chemicals and metals industry, Associations CEFIC and Eurometaux, the City of Helsinki, the Chemical Industry Federation of Finland and the University of Helsinki. The event is held at at Messukeskus Helsinki (Helsinki Convention Centre).

This year, Jan Vapaavuori, the mayor of Helsinki, will open the forum. He will be joined by Bjorn Hansen, executive director of ECHA and Daniel Calleja, director general for environment with the European Commission, in presenting keynote speeches.

Panel 1 will explore the pros and cons of various risk management options currently being used by authorities around the world to regulate substances of very high concern. Panel moderator will be Otto Linher, the deputy head of the EU’s REACH Unit.

Regulators and stakeholders have expressed growing interest in grouping similar chemicals in order to speed up risk assessment and management and to prevent inadvertently substituting one problem chemical with another. But there is no consistency in the way groupings are carried out globally. This will be the theme of panel 2, moderated by science editor Andrew Turley from Chemical Watch Magazine.

How to measure the performance of different chemical management systems in different parts of the world will be the focus of panel 3. Panelists will probe what are meaningful indicators for measuring success, the cost of action or inaction, and how to assess value for money of the different regulatory systems, among other questions. The panel will be moderated by Eeva Leinala, principal administrator with the OECD.

The global hot topic of plastics and circularity will be discussed the panel 4. The panelists will be drawn from various sides of the debate – plastics production, policy makers, users of plastics, and the Civil Society Organization representing advocacy. Moderator will be Jakob Duer, chemicals and health branch chief from the UN Environment.

Panel 5 will deal with the quality of and access to data on chemicals. The amount of data being generated on chemical substances keeps rising, although the quality of the data is of varying or unknown quality. This creates challenges relating to competing demands for this data, from actors with competing interests. The discussion will be moderated by Hugo Waeterschoot from Eurometaux.

On the afternoon of Saturday 25 May, HCF will organize a visit to the Fortum Waste Solutions plant in Riihimäki, which is one of Europe’s most advanced recycling facilities.

A detailed program will be available at in January 2019.

Two related events are also taking place in Helsinki before and after HCF. On 21-22 May, ECHA will host REACH/CLP Stakeholder Days at its offices in Helsinki. And on 26-30 May, the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry SETAC will hold its annual conference at Messukeskus Helsinki. Participants to those events will be encouraged to join all or part of the HCF and vice-versa.

Reported by Leslie Burt, Chemical Matters

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