To ensure a control of chemicals, many initiatives by governments as well as from industry have been launched over the last decades.

Binding International Agreements and Conventions

To ensure a control of chemicals, many initiatives by governments as well as from industry have been launched over the last decades. National governments and the EU have put in place strict regulations for consumer and environmental protection, as well as occupational health. Regulations govern chemical processes as well as the transport and management of chemical substances. At an international level, the industry is also subject to a number of programmes and conventions.

Chemical Leasing builds a business case for ensuring that chemicals are managed throughout their life cycle with a minimum of waste or “zero waste”. The approach mirrors the chemical conventions’ objectives of protecting human health and the environment from toxic chemicals. Chemical Leasing is wider in scope than the conventions, in that it can be applied to hazardous and non-hazardous chemicals and not only to those which are most harmful.

  • The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal is the most comprehensive global environmental agreement on hazardous and other wastes. It aims at protecting human health and the environment against any adverse effects resulting from the generation, management, transboundary movements and disposal of waste which are hazardous (based on their origin and/or composition) as well as other wastes (e.g., household waste and incinerator ash). (UNEP, 2010). Environmentally Sound Management (ESM) is a central focus of the Convention and is addressed primarily through an integrated life cycle approach.

    Waste prevention and environmentally sound management of wastes are an inherent part of the Chemical Leasing concept. In Chemical Leasing business cases, the chemical supplier not only advises on efficient use of chemicals but can also take care of the chemical waste, recycling and/or final treatment.

  • The Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade is a multilateral agreement that promotes shared responsibilities in the international trade of certain hazardous chemicals and contributes to the environmentally sound use of those chemicals, by facilitating exchange of information about their characteristics (UNEP and FAO, 2008). It covers pesticides and industrial chemicals that have been banned or severely restricted for health or environmental reasons in the country of origin.

    Chemical Leasing can be used as a business model to find new means of making the use of certain chemicals safer. The pilot projects with agricultural chemicals (pesticides and fertilizers) in Sri Lanka and Serbia indicate that the business model can significantly contribute to a reduction of chemicals used.

  • The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants is the most significant global legally binding instrument for targeting Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), to protect human health and the environment. POPs are chemicals that remain intact in the environment for long periods, become widely distributed geographically, accumulate in the fatty tissue of humans and wildlife, and have harmful impacts on human health or on the environment. In implementing the Convention, governments have to take measures to eliminate or at least reduce the release of POPs – especially the “Dirty Dozen”, the twelve worst ones – into the environment.

    Although Chemical Leasing does not focus solely on POPs, many of its objectives are in line with the Stockholm Convention. Chemical Leasing aims to help companies reduce the use and/or release of harmful chemicals by linking the reduction in chemical footprint to financial incentives. There is also a potential to apply Chemical Leasing as a vehicle for the substitution of POPs and for bringing alternatives to the market.

    Chemical Leasing can provide a business model to support the use of best available techniques and best environmental practices (BAT/BEP), so that the use of POPs is managed in an environmentally sound manner. This gives greater control over how POPs are managed throughout their life cycle, and the service company can be monitored closely and required to ensure that closed systems are used. As Chemical Leasing is a service-oriented business model, it can also:

    • stimulate the innovation of alternative technical solutions
    • ensure that any stockpiles of waste material containing or contaminated with POPs are managed safely
  • The European Union (EU) adopted the Regulation REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals) in 2006 to improve the protection of human health and the environment from the risks that can be posed by chemicals, while enhancing the competitiveness of the EU chemical industry. REACH also promotes alternative methods for hazard assessment of substances in order to reduce animal testing. In principle, REACH applies to all chemical substances, not only those used in industrial processes but also those that are present in our everyday lives, for example in cleaning products, paints, clothing, furniture and electrical appliances. The regulation therefore impacts most companies across the EU.

    REACH places the burden of proof on companies. To comply with the regulation, companies must identify and manage the risks linked to the substances they manufacture and market in the EU. They have to demonstrate how the substances can be used safely, and they must communicate risk management measures to the users.

    Chemical Leasing and REACH share the same philosophy of sharing the costs, benefits, responsibility and know-how between chemical suppliers and users. Like REACH, Chemical Leasing is relevant to a wide range of companies across many sectors, including manufacturers, importers, exporters and downstream users.

    Chemical Leasing further secures compliance with the obligation or duty to handle chemicals with care. This implies that chemicals and their applications are not only monitored but also managed with maximum accuracy. Chemical Leasing is also an effective tool for demonstrating adequate control, as specific parameters must be satisfied in order to obtain REACH authorization. Adequate control is an inherent principle of service-oriented business models.

    Chemical Leasing offers an ideal environment for identifying and applying the chemical safety concepts and assessments of use, exposure and risk, in particular within the chemical safety report REACH requires companies to provide. The specification of relevant use and exposure categories under REACH and the required risk management can build upon the assessments already performed during the implementation of Chemical Leasing.

    Application of Chemical Leasing business models implies measures for monitoring the quality and condition of chemicals, their applications, and the impact on health and the environment. Identical measures are required by REACH.

    Moreover, Chemical Leasing has the potential for substituting the most hazardous substances with less dangerous ones.

    Similar links can be made to analogous national regulations, laws and programmes that are in force or under development, such as the U.S. Toxics Release Inventory and Toxic Chemical Substance Inventory, the Chinese and Turkish “REACH”, the Japanese Chemical Substances Control Law, the Korean Toxic Chemicals Control Act, and comparable chemical laws and regulations in other countries.

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