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[GreenYes] REACH in the EU passes!

Hi all,

REACH is an important step forward for the EU, and the world. It looks like
it passed yesterday, and not everyone is happy (of course). The bottom-line
is how it is actually implemented... and my impression is that the EU needs
to get a lot better on implementation of their amazing environmental laws
all across the board. If others know details about REACH, please share. I
think this is a big deal, and the Zero Waste community should "frame" this
victory and hold it up for America to see.

EU lawmakers adopt controversial REACH chemical bill

<> AFP, 13 December 2006 - European lawmakers
definitively adopted Wednesday tough new rules on the use of hazardous
chemicals, passing one of the EU's most ambitious and hotly disputed
legislative packages in years.

The bill, derided by ecologists and industry but praised by consumer groups,
aims to ensure that 30,000 chemicals -- in products ranging from cleaners to
toys to plastics -- no longer present risks to human health or the

The parliamentarians overwhelmingly approved the legislation on its second
reading by a majority of 529 votes for and 98 against, ending more than
three years of lobbying and political wrangling.

The main groups in the Strasbourg assembly -- the conservatives, socialists
and liberal democrats all voted in favour, while the greens opposed the
measures for being too favourable to industry.

After the vote, a beaming parliamentary rapporteur, Italian MEP Guido
Sacconi, was handed a bouquet of flowers amid warm applause.

The so-called REACH regulation (registration, evaluation and authorisation
of chemicals) will oblige companies to register all chemicals they use and
provide information about them as well as any potential hazards.

It means that companies will now shoulder the burden of proving that their
chemicals are safe. The current 40-year-old system has obliged public
authorities to prove that such products are dangerous.

Of the estimated 100,000 substances on the European market, only those
introduced since 1981 -- a mere 3,000 or so -- have been studied for their
nocive effects.

The European Union's Finnish presidency applauded the yes vote. "This is a
historic day," said Finnish Trade and Industry Minister Mauri Pekkarinen.

"The chemicals regulation will reform the entire EU chemicals legislation
and will turn Europe into a global forerunner and trailblazer," he said.

EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said REACH "will increase our
knowledge about chemicals, enhance safety, and spur innovation while
encouraging substitution of highly dangerous substances by safer ones."

But an alliance of environmental and women's groups said the final package
was only a modest step in the direction of what was needed, and still
contained loopholes that the chemicals industry could jump through.

"Major loopholes in REACH will still allow many chemicals that can cause
serious health problems -- including cancer, birth defects and reproductive
illnesses -- to continue being used in manufacturing and consumer goods."
they said in a statement.

Greens MEP Caroline Lucas said: "This deal is an early Christmas present for
the chemicals industry, rewarding it for its intense and underhand lobbying

"While the legislative text has been agreed, the devil will be in the detail
of the implementation of these rules," she said.

Indeed the industry, led by German giant BASF, did push hard. But
non-governmental organisations also lobbied in spectacular fashion, at one
stage taking blood tests of parliamentarians to show the presence of toxic
substances even after they had been banned.

"We regret the unnecessary requirements added to the authorisation element
of REACH," said Alain Perroy, head of the European Chemical Industry Council
(Cefic), in a statement.

"The European chemical industry will see REACH as an opportunity to
demonstrate that companies have a solid knowledge of chemicals and strong
product management practices to ensure chemical safety," he said.

Europe's main consumer group BEUC generally welcomed the text itself but
worried about how it would be implemented.

"The adoption of REACH is not the end of the story: what has been agreed
must now be implemented properly and we will actively monitor the
situation," warned director Jim Murray.

This article is reproduced with kind permission of Agence France-Presse
<> (AFP) For more news and articles visit the AFP
website <> .

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