Friday, May 14, 2010

EU Coalition Argues that Regulations Help Innovation of New Chemicals

Yesterday I suggested that regulation under the newly proposed Safe Chemicals Act in the United States would actually stimulate innovation and development of new, safer chemicals in contrast to concerns by industry that regulation hinders innovation. In a timely piece of news, today I came across a new report published by the International Chemical Secretariat (ChemSec), a coalition founded by four non-profit organizations in Europe. ChemSec is the organization that previously released a SIN List of dangerous chemicals.

The report is called "Electronics Without Brominated Flame Retardants and PVC – a Market Overview" and the basic conclusion is that "greener, more environmentally-friendly electronics are possible!"

ChemSec notes that many companies are moving in this direction, and argues that "to stimulate this development, regulators, nationally and globally, have the opportunity, and responsibility, to establish legal frameworks confirming the elimination of replaceable, toxic chemicals used in electronics." They believe taht EU legislators can "confirm sustainable developments like the one reflected in the ChemSec Market Overview, by taking action on brominated flame retardants and PVC."

So apparently the RoHS Directive in the EU has stimulated innovation and development of alternatives that would not have been attempted if the costs of proving safety were not included in the business calculus. Thus, as I noted yesterday, it is highly likely that the Safe Chemicals Act will provide incentives for innovation. It can do this both by accurately counting the costs of safety and by providing financial and regulatory incentives for development of green chemistry.

Assuming that the bills actually are passed and become law.

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