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Our view on the safety of chemicals

Background

Everything in the material world is made from chemicals, whether natural or manmade. Most chemicals pose no risk to humans or the environment but some are hazardous and their risks need to be responsibly managed.

Legislation to control the use of hazardous chemicals is therefore increasing at a national, European and global level. There is also growing interest across society about the use of certain chemicals and the plastics value chain, including brand owners and consumers, is increasingly following and engaging in the debate on which chemicals should be used. The negative impact of certain plastics is also under scrutiny, due to littering, micro-plastics and non-intentionally added substances (NIAS) in food contact.

The EU has developed very stringent, all-encompassing chemical legislation known as Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals, or REACH, which is today’s leading global standard. Primary level initiatives and regulations such as REACH are resulting in ever-stricter hazard classifications for chemicals. This in turn significantly influences secondary level chemical legislation and regulations in areas such as waste, the circular economy, food contact and drinking water, toys, cosmetics and fertilizer.

Extremely hazardous chemicals are increasingly being prioritised, resulting in bans or restrictions to specific uses and applications in the EU. The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) has included more than 200 substances to be evaluated for phasing out. This is expected to reach 300 substances in this decade. A “sun set date”, indicating a full ban, has already been defined for more than 40 substances.

REACH also has implications for the much-needed shift to a circular economy in plastics: While there are ambitious and defined European targets to enhance the recycling of plastics, the requirements for more stringent product safety and quality – including full traceability of substances – could limit the use of recycled material for some applications.

Our view

We are committed to chemical safety

Responsible and ethical business conduct is highly important to Borealis. We want a “no harm” safe working environment for our employees and safe products for society.

As a signatory of the chemical industry’s Global Charter of Responsible Care®, we are committed to ensuring the safety of our products along the entire value chain. We do not use any banned substances from REACH Annex XIV in our operations, unless authorised by the European Commission and ECHA.

We enforce high product safety standards through a stringent product safety management system. We consider the safety of chemicals in all of our decision-making processes, when developing a new product and when finding alternatives to any substances creating concerns.

We publish extensive information on chemicals safety on our website. This information can be found at: https://www.borealisgroup.com/company/chemicals-safety/hazardous-chemicals.

We proactively address chemical safety

Ensuring chemicals cause no harm to people’s health and safety is one of the three focus areas in our sustainability strategy. We proactively address society’s concerns regarding the safety of certain chemicals and continually explore more sustainable alternatives.

However, the appropriate response to a potentially hazardous substance is not always obvious. There may be incomplete information or inconclusive evidence about a specific chemical, or a public controversy about its use, making it difficult to reach consensus about the right action for the industry to take. We therefore understand the precautionary principle defined by the European Commission, which takes the view that it is better to be safe than sorry. We apply this precautionary approach to certain substances that regulators are still assessing, due to their potential health or environmental risks.

We aim to anticipate consumer concerns about certain chemicals we use in our processes and products. This allows us to develop products that go beyond compliance with current regulations and address stakeholder concerns and market requirements. Examples include phthalate-free polypropylene, replacing azodicarbonamide (ADCA) in cable solutions and halogen-free cable compounds.

We are committed to fully complying with chemical legislation

Full compliance with chemical legislation is key to ensuring the safe production, distribution and application of our products. We therefore take a proactive approach to meeting regulatory standards and updates. The classification of all the substances we use and produce is based on their associated hazard and is fully in line with the Classification, Labelling and Packaging (CLP) regulation. As REACH ensures the safety of chemicals used in the EU, we engage with authorities such as ECHA and the national authorities in relevant Member States, to support its implementation.

We actively follow and anticipate the development of chemical legislation and support it by engaging with industry associations at EU and Member State level and by sharing our expertise with our stakeholders. We also support the current regulatory effort to improve the quality of data and information, testing methods and guidelines, as long as the process is workable and nimble.

Sustainability

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