with industry to reduce the risks to the environment from
nonylphenols, octylphenols and their ethoxylates.
action to the government after identifying these substances as
meeting their criteria for persistence, toxicity and bioaccumulation
and establishing that they pose significant risks to the environment.
They are also suspected endocrine disrupters.
Nonylphenols and their ethoxylates are used in the production of a
wide range of products and processes including industrial cleaning,
paints, paper, inks, and textiles. Octoylphenol and their ethoxylates
are much less widely used, but have similar properties to
nonylphenols and could potentially be used as substitutes for
The measures would lead to the end of uses of the chemicals that lead
to high levels of environmental exposure and would bring in strict
controls on remaining uses.
The Forum based its recommendation on the risk management strategy
that has already been agreed for nonylphenol and their ethoxylates by
EU Member States under existing legislation. The Forum concluded that
it would take too long for this to become law under a new EU
directive, and that industry should take action to reduce the risks
as soon as possible.
Environment minister, Michael Meacher, agreed that the current uses
of nonylphenols, and their ethoxylates give rise to unacceptable
risks to the environment and that substitution with octylphenols
would present similar risks.
'We cannot tolerate the uses of such hazardous chemicals that result
in them being released into the environment in large quantities. This
proposed voluntary agreement with industry would dramatically reduce
the risks and will also encourage innovation and prepare UK industry
for the future legislation ahead of its competitors elsewhere.
I therefore invite industry to engage with the government in
developing this formal voluntary agreement as quickly as possible.'
1. In addition to phasing out the uses of nonylphenol and octylphenol
and their ethoxylates, the CSF recommends that action should be taken
to restrict releases into the environment as a result of:
manufacturing and formulation of preparations, including
phenol/formaldehyde resins, plastic stabilisers and emulsion
disposal of products containing these substances.
2. This is the CSF's first recommendation for a formal voluntary
agreement on specific chemicals.
3. The UK Chemicals Strategy recognised that rapid action was not
being achieved by the current EU legislation for existing chemicals.
It identified voluntary agreements as preferable to legislation
because they could achieve faster action on harmful substances.
Voluntary action was also recognised as being a less bureaucratic
approach, which gives industry the opportunity to develop innovative
plans for risk reduction andsubstitution.
4. The Chemicals Stakeholder Forum was set up under the UK Chemicals
Strategy, published in 1999. The Strategy identified the following
goals: make full information publicly available about the
environmental risks of chemicals; continue reduction of risks
presented by chemicals to the environment and human health - while
maintaining the competitiveness of industry; phase out early those
chemicals identified as representing an unacceptable risk to the
5. The Forum was established to advise the government on action to
take forward the aims of the strategy as well as general chemicals
policy. It is chaired by the Earl of Selborne and includes
representatives from industry, environmental and consumer groups,
retailers, scientists, and trade unions. The Forum has agreed the
following terms of reference:
T o advise government on managing risks to the environment and (via
the environment) to human health from chemicals entering the
environment through commercial production and use in accordance with
the 1999 government paper 'Sustainable production and use of chemicals
- a strategic approach', taking into account the views of interested
bodies and the public, and European and international chemicals
policy, and with due regard to sustainable development and the
To advise government on the development of general policy on
chemicals in the environment and, where appropriate, make
recommendations for research and monitoring.
6. Further details about the CSF, including meeting papers and agenda
can be found on the DEFRA website.
7. Details of EU proposals to control the risks from nonylphenols can
be found here.