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The Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability

Just Missing Environmental Sustainability?


Samira Galler, Martin Wimmer


This work is distributed under the Creative Commons Licence Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0).

The revision of the REACH Regulation was initiated by the Commission´s Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability (CSS) in 2020, which is a part of the European Green Deal. Next to other innovative elements, the CSS introduced the concept of “Safe and sustainable by design (SSbD)” for chemicals, which aims at the transition of industry towards the production and use of more environmentally sustainable chemicals. The integration of environmental sustainability into the European regulatory framework of chemicals is not trivial, as it requires to taking not only the inherent properties of chemicals into account, but also the underlying chemical manufacturing processes. While the CSS envisaged the revision of REACH as a key implementation measure, it became gradually clear, that the European Commission did not plan to include environmental sustainability into the envisaged proposal for a revision of the REACH Regulation, but to focus the revision solely on widening safety aspects, while leaving the implementation of environmental sustainability requirements to other instruments, particularly the Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation (ESPR). The European chemicals risk management might thus be governed by a rather fragmented regulatory framework, building on different European legal instruments, including the future REACH Regulation and the ESPR as major elements. In addition, within the innovation and research policy, the SSbD framework for chemicals is currently being developed by the Commission, which will have repercussions on the implementation of the two above-mentioned regulations. The development of these instruments will thrive the chemical industry towards greater environmental sustainability. However, there is a risk that inconsistencies and incoherence between these comprehensive and complex pieces of legislation that were developed independently of each other may hamper their respective implementation. This article assesses potential problems for the implementation of SSbD in practice due to these upcoming regulatory inconsistencies.

Samira Galler, MSc. and Dr. Martin Wimmer are national experts for Chemicals Policy within the Austrian Ministry for Climate Action. Next to accompanying the REACH revision process, they are responsible for the development of Green Chemistry in Austria and deal with the interface between chemicals policy and product policy. Contact:


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