- Ensuring strong and transparent governance for ECHA
- Why compliance matters
- SME registrant: is your company size correct in REACH-IT?
- 5 tips for preparing poison centre notifications
- Better safe-use advice through improved supply chain communication
- Communication about Candidate List substances in products must improve
- Interlinks - ensuring effective enforcement through agile collaboration
- Improve your skills on assessing alternatives
- Guest column: Solvay’s view on new requirements for nanomaterials
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Article related to: News from ECHA
Improve your skills on assessing alternatives
Assessing alternatives is a key step when replacing harmful substances with less harmful ones or with more sustainable technologies. Whether you need to do this while applying for authorisation to continue using a substance placed on the Authorisation List, or to make more informed chemicals management decisions, a new training course on the topic could be for you.
Assessing your alternatives
Before deciding to substitute a chemical of concern, a thoughtful assessment of the pros and cons of a wide range of alternative chemicals, technologies and designs, should be conducted. Doing this will help you avoid regrettable substitutes.
To start with, you should determine the goal of the assessment, as well as consider the scope and criteria that you will use to make a final decision on the alternatives.
During the analysis, you should look whether alternative substances or technologies are available, whether they are technically and economically suitable, and whether they have the potential to reduce risk or present potential trade-offs. Depending on the case, other implications may need to be considered too, such as the lifecycle of the alternative and the product, the impact it may have on greenhouse gas emissions or the consumption of natural resources.
Well-performed assessments of alternatives are key for informed substitution of hazardous substances. Carrying out the assessment could be relevant for regulatory purposes, including REACH authorisation and restriction, in response to market demands, or simply as part of responsible chemicals management activities.
Self learning through online course
By early 2020, ECHA will publish an online introductory training course on the assessment of alternatives to support informed substitution. The course has been developed by the University of Massachusetts Lowell in cooperation with the Agency, and will provide information on emerging standards of practice and give examples of useful methods and tools for assessing alternatives.
The training is not exclusive to the REACH authorisation context, but rather targets those working on sustainable chemicals management in a broader sense – whether in national authority, industry, or a non-governmental organisation.
During the online course, participants will learn how to make informed chemicals management decisions when substituting hazardous substances. The training is structured as follows:
- Introduction: the case for informed substitution and an introduction to the training series.
- Session 1: Scoping the assessment – defining the goals and decision rules.
- Session 2: Identifying and screening alternatives – introducing useful resources for identifying a range of alternatives for further evaluation.
- Session 3: Hazard and exposure – assessing hazards, intrinsic properties and exposure.
- Session 4: Cost and technical performance – identifying and assessing essential performance and quality criteria and costs.
- Session 5: Making and implementing decisions – looking at tools which can help compare alternatives and reviewing important considerations for implementing the results of the assessment.
Each pre-recorded session varies in length, but none will take more than 60 minutes to complete. Suggested reading and additional resources, such as watching relevant webinars to delve deeper on specific assessment tools, will require additional time.
All sessions contain videos of practitioners who reflect on lessons learned when conducting an assessment. In addition to knowledge checks through short quizzes included in each session, you will have the opportunity to take a final test to obtain a certificate of completion.
The training is in English and a script will be available along with the video for each session. This will allow stakeholders, such as national industry federations or substitution centres, to translate the training in their own language for further use.
The course will be subscription based but free-of-charge, meaning that there is a limited number of participants who can take the course simultaneously. You can indicate your interest in taking the course by filling the expression of interest form. Participants will receive a time-limited subscription to the online learning platform once the training is published.
Based on the feedback, ECHA will assess if there is a need for further training courses – online or face to face.
Stakeholders’ substitution initiatives
In May 2019, ECHA organised a second meeting of the substitution and innovation network, which gathered around 50 stakeholders in Helsinki.
The network offers a platform for national authorities, industry and non-governmental organisations to share their experiences on specific substitution cases as well as other initiatives related to replacing harmful substances with safer alternatives.
All workshop presentations and case studies are available through ECHA’s web pages for Substitution Events
Did you know?
In June 2019, the Danish Environmental Protection Agency published results from a study carried out in Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Norway, focusing on the effectiveness of the authorisation process under REACH.
The study found that regulatory actions, such as introducing harmonised classification, identification of substances of very high concern (SVHCs), addition of substances to the Candidate List and authorisation, have driven industries to search for safer alternatives, and resulted in substances of very high concern being used in “considerably reduced tonnages in the Nordic countries”.
For substances classified as carcinogenic, mutagenic and toxic for reproduction, the decrease in volumes took place already before they were included in the Candidate List. For other groups of substances, a significant decrease was seen after they were added to the Candidate or Authorisation lists.
Text by Nedyu Yasenov
Published on: 14 November 2019
Top image: © Pixabay/Wokandapix
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