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EU authorities agree plan on substitution efforts

EU biocides authorities have agreed an action plan, aimed at upping efforts in the substitution of hazardous substances in biocidal products.

In the plan, discussed at a meeting last week, the competent authorities (CAs) for biocides call on member states, industry and NGOs to:

  • initiate actions and projects for finding appropriate chemical or non-chemical alternatives to biocidal active substances of high concern;
  • share experiences on identifying breakthrough methods or products that could potentially bring new ideas for the developments of alternatives to chemical biocidal products; and
  • start preparing contributions to upcoming public consultations on candidates for substitution by collecting or generating relevant data.

In addition, the European Commission encouraged the member states to take part in workshops and future EU projects aimed at finding alternatives.

The Dutch authorities are due to hold one of these on 5 October. The purpose of the workshop is to foster the adoption of safer alternatives to traditionally used copper and zinc-based paints.

And in November, the German authorities will hold an international workshop on non-chemical alternatives to rodenticides in Brussels. The event is to support fair competition between chemical and non-chemical alternatives.

The German authorities also plan to fund a research project on alternatives to rodenticides with a better environmental profile, the CA meeting heard.

Industry role

The authorities also highlighted last week the role of industry in the successful substitution of biocidal substances of concern.

EU officials said industry should be "at the forefront" of substitution by investing in research and development to seek alternatives.

At the meeting, industry representatives suggested organising a fact-finding event on alternatives to preservatives used in paints, detergents and water-based polymers.

Industry has repeatedly voiced concerns over a more and more limited choice of available in-can preservatives, with many commonly used substances being subject to restrictions or bans under the biocidal products Regulation (BPR).

Project background

The European Commission had already raised the issue of substitution with the CAs at a spring meeting.

Then, it said that, for some biocidal product-types, the proportion of active substances meeting the BPR's exclusion or substitution criteria "can be considered significant".

The CAs heard in May that finding alternatives is particularly pressing for:

  • rodenticides;
  • mosquito control products;
  • antifoulings;
  • in-can preservatives; and
  • wood preservatives.

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