The Candidate list of Substances of Very High Concern (SVHC) now contains 209 substances, with four additional substances:
- 1-vinylimidazole: Used in formulations and as a monomer in the production of polymers
- 2-methylimidazole: Used as a catalyst in the production of coating products
- Dibutylbis(pentane-2,4-dionato-O,O')tin: Used as a catalyst and as an additive in the production of plastics
- Butyl 4-hydroxybenzoate (Butylparaben): Used in cosmetics, personal care products and pharmaceuticals
The first three substances were identified as SVHCs due to their reproductive toxicity and the fourth substance was added to the candidate list for its endocrine disrupting properties.
These substances are now candidates for an eventual inclusion to the Authorisation List. Any inclusion will require businesses to apply for permission to continue using the substance.
When amfori members import articles into the EU containing one of these substances at a concentration above 0.1% weight by weight, they are legally obliged to communicate this information towards customers and down the supply chain. They have six months to notify the European Chemical Agency (ECHA) There is another condition (total quantity of substance per year) and some exemptions. amfori members may refer to the informative “notification” page on the ECHA website.
Towards a Restriction of Microplastics
A proposal to restrict intentionally added microplastics in products was submitted by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) in January 2019. In June 2020, the Risk assessment Committee (RAC) has endorsed the proposal, considering that despite the lack of information of the toxicity of microplastics, the bioaccumulative and very persistent properties were sufficient to justify a restriction. The next step is for the Committee for Socio-Economic Analysis (SEAC) to provide an opinion, which is expected during the summer. However, many steps are still to come and the restriction proposal, if agreed, would not be likely to be adopted before 2022. A restriction can mean a total ban of the substance or that it is limited to certain uses.
This proposal defines microplastics as small (diameter smaller than 5mm), solid, insoluble and non-degradable polymers or other substances. Intentionally added microplastics can mainly be found in cosmetics, personal care products, detergents, fertilisers, pharmaceuticals, and glitter. Unintentional release of microplastics is not under scope, it is being tackled in other policy initiatives such as the single-use plastics ban. Still, it is estimated that this proposal would reduce the release of microplastics in nature by 90%.
Towards a Restriction of PFHxS
Another restriction proposal is ongoing, this time to ban PFHxS. It is mainly used as a water and stain repellent in textiles and firefighting foams but is used less and less in the EU. This restriction proposal was submitted by Norway in June 2019 to prevent the substance becoming a regrettable substitution to PFOA, a ‘forever chemical” which will be banned from July onwards. In June 2020, SEAC emitted a favourable opinion to the proposal and this opinion, along with the RACs opinion will now go to the European Commission to start the consultation with the EU institutions.
PFHxS is very persistent and very bioaccumulative: it is the most frequently detected perfluorinated substance (PFAS) in human blood samples worldwide and found in the environment all over the world, including in wildlife in remote areas like the Arctic.