After two years of postponed conferences around the world, the Helsinki Chemicals Forum (HCF) is launching a global hybrid event that will take place in Helsinki Expo and Convention Centre on June 8-9 2022. The conference will feature five discussion topics towards a safer and more sustainable future. As a hybrid event, it will combine live and virtual international participation.
“We can now share this conference platform with more participants from all over the world to raise their questions to truly global top experts,” said Geert Dancet, HCF’s secretary general. The conference is scheduled from 1 to 6 p.m. (EET) on each of the two days and the participants of HCF have are welcome to take part in morning activities in the simultaneous events ChemBio Finland and PulPaper.
Kristin Schreiber, director of the European Commission, DG Growth, and Peter van der Zandt, director of ECHA will open the conference with opening keynote speeches. Moderators from the European Commission, CEFIC, OECD and UNEP, among others, will host panels of 4 to 5 expert speakers from different stakeholders and countries. Panels will debate the topics with the hybrid audience.
Topics to be discussed including chemicals regulation; safe and sustainable by design substances; chemicals risk management integration with circularity and climate policy objectives; replacement of animal toxicity testing; and science policy interface for the sound management of chemicals and waste.
The full program is now published and registration is open for live and online participants.
Michael S. Regan, the former top environmental regulator for North Carolina, was today sworn in as the 16th Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). As EPA head, he will be responsible for driving forward the Biden administration’s climate and regulatory agenda.
“I’m grateful to President Biden for entrusting me to lead the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency at this critical moment in our country’s history,” Regan said. “EPA’s career officials are the backbone of this agency, and I am humbled to work alongside them as we confront climate change, stand up for justice and equity, and ensure science is at the heart of our decision-making. We will prove that environmental protection and economic prosperity go hand in hand – and we will seize this opportunity to create a healthier, more just future for all.”
He returns to the EPA after starting his career at the agency, rising to the role of national program manager responsible for designing strategic solutions to reduce air pollution, improve energy efficiency and address climate change.
Prior to his nomination as EPA Administrator, Regan served as the Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality. In that role, he spearheaded the development and implementation of the state’s plan to address climate change and transition it to a clean energy economy. Among other achievements, he secured the largest coal ash clean-up in U.S. history and led complex negotiations regarding the clean-up of the Cape Fear River, which had been contaminated for years by the toxic chemicals per- and polyfluoroalkyl substance (PFAS).
After a year of postponed conferences around the world, the Helsinki Chemicals Forum (HCF) will return for its 12th Forum, to be held as a two-day virtual event, 27 and 28 April 2021. With five panels and high-level keynote speeches, HCF 2021 will host topical debates on key issues faced by the chemicals industry globally and share policy trends aimed towards a safer, more sustainable future.
Five main topics will be discussed, including the United Nations’ upcoming fifth session of the International Conference for Chemicals Management (ICCM5), the European Union’s green chemicals strategy, transparency and risk communication, safer substitution and the future of toxic-free textiles.
Moderators will include representatives from five global organizations — UNEP, EU, CEFIC, ECHA, OECD and Chemical Watch, with a special keynote led by Virginijus Sinkevičius, the EU Commissioner for environment.
The event will include two days of open panels, networking and insights into present policy and future trends for chemicals regulations.
Geert Dancet, secretary general of HCF, shared his enthusiasm for this year’s program: “We can now share this conference platform with many more participants from all over the world to raise their questions to truly global top experts.“
The forum will begin with Virginijus Sinkevičius’s special keynote address, in which he will explain how the chemicals strategy for sustainability fits in the EU Green Deal. He will then be joined by Martin Brudermüller, president of CEFIC and CEO of BASF, and Jeremy Wates, secretary general of the European Environment Bureau for a debate on the ambition of this strategy.
Jan Vapaavuori, lord mayor of Helsinki will offer opening remarks on Helsinki’s plan for climate neutrality, while ECHA’s executive director Bjorn Hansen will give a keynote speech on functioning of the chemical EU registration system set by REACH and CLP.
Day one of HCF 2021 will have two panel discussions. The first panel, moderated by UNEP, will cover the primary challenges ahead of the anticipated July 2021 United Nations conference ICCM5 on chemicals and waste management. Panel two, hosted by the European Commission, will focus is on how green chemical policy can be developed.
Day two will start with a full expert panel on the pressing requirement for more transparency and risk communication, hosted by ECHA. A second panel, hosted by OECD, will focus on the search and global need for safer and more sustainable substitution of dangerous chemicals, ending with a spotlight on the regulatory challenges faced by one global value chain, textiles, hosted by Chemical Watch.
Both days will run from 1 to 6 pm (EET).
The full program and details about registration (cost is 300 euros) is available on HCF’s website.
A parallel virtual event, ChemBio Finland 2021, is also open to HCF participants. Taking place online on Wednesday 28 April 2021, ChemBio Finland covers the chemistry and biotechnology industries in the Nordic Countries and Baltic regions. A detailed program will be published soon, and the participants should register at ChemBio Finland 2021 virtual pre-event.
A group of companies working on projects that offer clean solutions in the energy, agricultural and resources sectorshave received funding support from Canada’s federal government.
François-Philippe Champagne, Canada’s federal minister of innovation, science and industry, recently announced funding of $55.1 million (CAD) in 20 clean technology companies across Canada through Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC). These small and medium-sized companies are developing solutions to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, lessen the environmental impacts of conventional mining methods and support more sustainable agricultural practices.
The funding is part of the Canadian government’s previously announced plan to spend $750 million over five years re-capitalizing SDTC with the goal of helping Canadian entrepreneurs to develop and commercialize clean technologies.
The funding “will enable cleantech companies in Canada to grow and scale to meet domestic and global demand for solutions in the net-zero era. From reducing energy consumption, to building the agricultural circular economy, Canadians are leading the world’s transition to a green economy,” said Leah Lawrence, president and CEO of STDC.
The companies receiving funding are:
Entosystem in Sherbrooke, QC receives $1.6m for its optimized black soldier fly protein and fertilizer production.
ChrysaLabs in Saint-Georges-de-Windsor, QC receives $1.6M for its fast and reliable real-time soil data.
Precision.AI in Regina, SK receives $4.0M for its reduced chemical agriculture via autonomous drone technology.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is seeking public comment on draft guidance that would allow researchers to forego testing chemicals on animal skin in certain circumstances to determine whether pesticides lead to adverse effects.
“This proposed guidance is a great example of how we can continue to protect human health and the environment and make science-based decisions about pesticide registrations without needing to conduct unnecessary tests on the skin of animals,” said Andrew Wheeler, EPA Administrator. “Today’s action puts EPA on a path of eliminating the need for all mammal testing by 2035.”
The proposed dermal toxicity guidance would allow waivers for studies on single-active ingredients used to develop end-use products to apply for waivers. In developing the guidance, the EPA conducted a retrospective analysis and concluded that its requirements for such studies provides little to no added value in regulatory decision-making. This guidance, when finalized, is expected to save up to 750 test animals annually from unnecessary testing as well as the EPA, industry and laboratory resources.
EPA will take comments on the proposed guidance for 30 days after publication in the Federal Register. Comments can be submitted online at http://www.regulations.gov (Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OPP-2016-0093). After carefully considering public input, EPA will finalize the guidance.
The Canadian government has taken another step toward banning single-use plastic items, including bags and straws, by 2030.
The government estimates that every year, Canadians throw away 3 million tonnes of plastic waste, only 9% of which is recycled, meaning the vast majority of plastics end up in landfills and about 29,000 tonnes finds its way into the natural environment.
A key part of the plan is a ban on harmful single-use plastic items where there is evidence that they are found in the environment, are often not recycled, and have readily available alternatives. Based on those criteria, the six items the government proposes to ban are plastic checkout bags, straws, stir sticks, six-pack rings, cutlery, and food ware made from hard-to-recycle plastics.
Comments on the proposed regulations are being accepted until December 9, 2020 and the regulations will be finalized by the end of 2021.
All federal, provincial and territorial governments have agreed to a Canada-wide Strategy on Zero Plastic Waste that lays out a vision for a circular economy for plastics, as well as a two-phase action plan that is being jointly implemented.
In Canada, the provincial, territorial and municipal governments lead the recovery and recycling of plastic waste, so the federal government says it will work with them to strengthen existing programs and increase the country’s capacity to reuse and recover more plastics. This will include collaborating with them to develop pan-Canadian targets to ensure that rules are consistent and transparent across the country, and to make producers and sellers of plastic products responsible for collecting them.
The final Science Assessment of Plastic Pollution, which was also published today, evaluates the state of the science and looks at the presence and effects of plastic pollution on the environment and human health.
Finally, over $2M (CAD) in funding was announced through the Zero Plastic Waste Initiative for 14 new Canadian-led plastic reduction initiatives. These projects are led by communities, organizations, and institutions, and will promote the development of new and innovative solutions to prevent, capture and remove plastic pollution from the environment.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced a broad public engagement and outreach effort to discuss how the agency will approach the rulemaking process to address unreasonable risks found in the final Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) chemical risk evaluations. After issuing the first two final risk evaluations, methylene chloride and 1-bromopropane, EPA is moving into the risk management phase and is hosting a robust process to gain important feedback from stakeholders on the options for managing those risks.
“All stakeholders can expect transparent, proactive and meaningful outreach and engagement as we move through the risk management rulemaking process,” said EPA Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention Assistant Administrator Alexandra Dapolito Dunn.
EPA is holding two public webinars in September 2020 to kick off this outreach effort. Each will provide an overview of the TSCA risk management process and the tools available to manage the unreasonable risks. The first webinar, scheduled for September 16, 2020, will feature a discussion of the findings from the final risk evaluation for methylene chloride. The second webinar, scheduled for September 30, 2020, will include a discussion of the findings from the final risk evaluation for 1-bromopropane. Additional public webinars will be scheduled as EPA begins the risk management process for chemicals with unreasonable risks.
Additionally, EPA will begin one-on-one meetings with stakeholders and formal consultations with state and local governments, tribes, environmental justice communities, and small businesses. There will also be an open public comment period on any draft risk management regulation.
ECHA’s second report on the Integrated Regulatory Strategy gives an overview on the progress in addressing substances of concern and in the “mapping of the chemical universe”. It includes recommendations to authorities and industry on managing chemicals’ risks.
In 2019, ECHA moved from a substance-by-substance approach to addressing structurally similar chemicals in groups. The aim is to speed up the identification of hazardous substances and get their risks controlled more quickly.
Together with Member States, the Agency reviewed around 220 substances registered above 100 tonnes per year and allocated them to different pools of the chemical universe for regulatory action. For 56 % of them, more data was needed to clarify the need for further risk management. For 22 % of the substances, no further action was proposed and 7 % were considered as high priority for EU regulatory risk management.
The number of substances registered above 100 tonnes and not yet assigned to a pool in the chemical universe has reduced to around 2 400. The grouping approach also enabled ECHA to scrutinise more than 300 low-production volume substances in 2019.
“The progress we have made with the Integrated Regulatory Strategy is a step towards better protecting Europe’s citizens. To gain the most impact, we have focused the work on high-volume substances, and we aim for more clarity on all chemicals registered above 100 tonnes by the end of 2020. Grouping similar substances helps to speed up and make regulatory actions more consistent. It also helps national authorities step up their efforts to manage chemical risks under REACH and other pieces of legislation,” says Jack de Bruijn, ECHA’s Director of Prioritisation and Integration.
Mapping the chemical universe and assigning substances for further action is a key part of the Integrated Regulatory Strategy. The aim is to have full clarity for all registered substances by 2027.
ECHA’s Integrated Regulatory Strategy report covers an overview of the pre-regulatory steps (screening of groups by ECHA or Member States, expert group assessment and regulatory management option analysis), the evaluation processes and the regulatory risk management activities under REACH and CLP.
It gives the following recommendations:
Screening groups of substances, data generation and assessment should be further optimised to ensure substances are progressed to regulatory risk management without delay.
Harmonised classification and labelling should become a priority, as it has a direct impact on company-level risk management, and is often the step before restriction, authorisation or other measures under other pieces of legislation are taken.
The priority and appropriateness of previously identified, but still pending, follow-up actions should be reviewed and those substances which need further regulatory risk management should be progressed without delay.
The compliance of registration information needs to be improved, in particular, for substances with a high potential for exposure and currently lacking appropriate hazard data.
Compliance of dossiers, their systematic review and updates of registrations based on new information, remains industry’s responsibility. ECHA welcomes the initiative of industry associations to develop review programmes to help registrants review chemical safety data.
Further enhance cooperation and coordination between authorities.
Background: Chemical Universe
Overall, the chemical universe of over 21 000 registered substances (both high-volume and low volume substances) includes approximately:
330 substances have regulatory risk management under consideration;
1 550 substances are under data generation;
390 substances that already have regulatory risk management ongoing; and
700 substances where currently no further actions have been proposed after authority reviews.
ECHA will be hosting a webinar on right-sizing your company for SME verification on 9 June 2020 from 11:00 – 13:00 EEST, GMT + 3
The webinar will discuss the steps needed to take to ensure that a company’s size has been declared correctly to avoid unnecessary fees. Toppics to be convered include:
Learn about the SME definition
Learn how to assess your company size
Examples of ownership structures and calculations
Key messages and tips
The webinar will be published on ECHA’s home page on the day of the event at 11:00 Helsinki Time (EEST, GMT +3). Following the webinar, a live Q&A session through Slido will be held to answer questions.
Chemical Watch will host a one-day virtual conference on the Toxic Substances Control Act, (TSCA) on 16 July 2020. The virtual conference will cover the latest developments since the law was amended in 2016, and the impact on business.
Key topics to be explored include:
TSCA updates from the EPA
New program statistics and pre-manufacture notice (PMN) status
NGO and industry perspectives on recent risk evaluations
CBI substantiation overview
Enforcement and litigation issues including enforcement during the Covid-19 pandemic
The impact of the coronavirus on TSCA
Reflections on four years of implementing the Lautenberg amendments