With the incorporation of the “substitution principle” into environmental law in Sweden in the 1970s, Europe has chartered the course for others to follow when it comes to strategic policies and programs to advance the substitution of hazardous substances. Today is no different. Within the last couple of years, a broad array of new programmatic and policy frameworks to support substitution have emerged. In Part 1 of this Updates from Europe series, we will learn about recent European Commission-level activities as well as unique efforts in individual Member States that are advancing informed substitution, including enhancing use of alternatives assessment approaches.
How is industry using the process of alternatives assessment to transition towards the use of safer alternatives? Once a safer and feasible alternative is identified, what real-world challenges and opportunities are revealed when implementing substitution decisions? In Part I of this series, we will hear case examples from multi-nationals regarding their alternatives assessment/informed substitution experience. Through presentations and group discussion, the session will reveal critical factors to help optimize the success of a given substitution initiative given varying business, policy and value chain positions. We will also hear recommendations from industry actors regarding needs and opportunities for mainstreaming the use alternatives assessment/informed substitution practices into business operations.
In this Part 2 of our Updates from Europe series, we will dive deeper into the “Safe-by-Design” approach. This approach is recently being promoted by European authorities and others as a way to integrate safer chemical design with considerations of climate and circularity - and its connection to the substitution program and policy landscape in the European Union.
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are often downstream chemical users without significant in-house expertise to pursue evaluating, identifying and implementing substitution options. In Part 2 of our series on Industry experience implementing alternatives assessment substitution, we will hear from SMEs and the unique substitution programs that are supporting them. Presentations and group discussion will reveal tools and strategies that are of most benefit to SMEs to support their informed substitution efforts, especially considering cultural contexts and environmental justice considerations in which many small businesses operate. We will also hear recommendations regarding needs and opportunities for mainstreaming the use alternatives assessment/informed substitution practices into the business operations of SMEs.
Decision-making in alternatives assessment can be a challenging task. There is no “correct” strategy to make decisions under conditions of uncertainty or when navigating trade-offs. However, over the years, tool developers and some alternatives assessment frameworks, including the 2014 U.S. National Academies, A Framework to Guide Selection of Chemical Alternatives have outlined various approaches. Yet what works in practice given the real-world circumstances when decisions are being made? Part 1 of this session will feature practitioners’ experience and strategies used to make decisions given uncertainties and data gaps and how these uncertainties are communicated. Part 2 takes on the topic of trade-offs in the assessment, for example, navigating different hazard levels for multiple endpoints within the hazard assessment component, or navigating trade-offs between performance, exposure, and hazards. Both Part 1 and Part 2 will feature brief presentations by practitioners and the majority of the time will be used to zero-in on the benefits and challenges of various approaches, bringing in lessons learned from our broader A4 community. This session will be highly discussion-oriented, so bring your experience to the virtual conference room!