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Chemicals Initiatives 2014-17 – towards a life without toxins

In October 2013 the Danish Government established a broad agreement with all the parliamentary parties on strong Danish chemicals initiatives for the period 2014-2017. The agreement will ensure that children and adults can live without fear of becoming ill because of chemicals, and that people, animals and plant-life can thrive in a healthy environment. This may sound simple enough, but in a world where chemicals are a vital part of our lives, this is no easy task. Chemicals are in our clothes. They are in shampoo. And they are in our mobile phones. Everywhere we go, we are surrounded by chemicals. They help make our skin feel softer, make paint cover better and make bicycle tyres last longer. Fortunately, by far the majority of the chemicals around us are not hazardous for either people or the environment. However, we need to manage those which are harmful, and we must work actively to seek better alternatives. We are well on the way in Denmark and internationally, but there is still a lot of work ahead. The agreement on the Chemicals Initiatives 2014-2017 is a strong step forward on the road to life without toxins.

There is no point in Denmark alone imposing bans or requirements on enterprises which produce goods containing chemicals. By far the majority of the goods we use every day are manufactured outside Danish borders; and most can be bought on the internet. Most of the companies producing chemicals are not Danish. Therefore it is crucial that Denmark makes more effort in international chemicals work. We need to be involved in drawing up international chemicals regulations such as the European REACH regulations. We must be active and influence negotiations from the start, and we must contribute our vast knowledge on the chemicals area. We must share our insight with politicians from other countries and officials from the EU, the UN, green organisations, consumer organisations and enterprises which want to be part of securing that not just Danes, but all the peoples of the world are better protected against hazardous chemicals.

All in all, collaboration across interests is an important part of the chemicals initiatives for 2014-2017 which have the support of all the parties in the Danish Parliament. Therefore the agreement is a broad invitation for green organisations, the state, enterprises, knowledge centres and consumer organisations to all contribute and take part in chemicals work. They can do this in the new Chemicals Forum, in which knowledge and experience in the area will be shared between those with an interest in ensuring that we keep a sharp eye on the most hazardous chemicals and that we exploit the advantages in other chemicals.

This is how we will achieve the best results. Firstly in terms of user safety, but also with regard to the competitiveness of Danish enterprises. Given that chemicals are produced and used throughout the world, it is an advantage for Danish enterprises that all enterprises are playing according to the same rules.

Enterprises must also take part in finding alternatives to the most hazardous chemicals, and we must help them in the enormous task of developing new and better products without these hazardous chemicals. We must be able to use our resources again and again, and chemicals must not stand in the way of reusing components from computers, fibres from clothes, or bulbs from lighting. The chemicals initiatives will contribute to the development of new and more resource-efficient technologies.

Therefore, I look forward to active and extended collaboration to bring chemicals of concern under control.

Kirsten Brosbøl

Minister for the Environment

Chemical Initiatives 2014-17 is based upon the political agreement of October 2013, with all  the parties in Folketinget, the Danish Parliament.

Chemical Initiatives 2014-17 will be continued under the government Lars Løkke Rasmussen II by the Minister for Environment and Food  Eva Kjer Hansen.
The website is updated continuously under “Behind the Chemicals initiatives”.