EC Issues Final Report on the Sustainable Use of Biocides

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Courtesy of Bergeson & Campbell, P.C.

On March 16, 2016, the European Commission (EC) issued its final report on the sustainable use of biocides. Article 18 of the European Union’s (EU) biocidal products regulation (BPR) directs the EC to issue a report on how the BPR contributes to the sustainable use of biocidal products, and on whether there is a need to introduce additional measures, in particular for professional users, to reduce the risks posed to human health, animal health, and the environment by biocidal products. Sustainable use for biocidal products is defined in the report as “the objective of reducing the risks and impacts of the use of biocidal products on human health, animal health and the environment and of promoting the use of integrated pest management and of alternative approaches or techniques such as non-chemical alternatives to biocidal products.”

Significantly, the EC’s report does not recommend the creation of further regulations, stating that the “risks posed to human health, animal health and the environment by biocidal products … are already appropriately addressed by measures imposed through the conditions of approval of active substances or the authorisation of biocidal products.” The EC also declined to extend the scope of the Framework Directive on the Sustainable Use of Pesticides (Directive 2009/128/EC) to biocidal products, stating: “due to the very diverse nature of biocidal products and the variety of applications, it does not seem appropriate to simply extend the scope of the Framework Directive on the Sustainable Use of Pesticides to biocidal products.”

Instead, the EC states that the “first and main priority” of EU Member States and industry must be “the completion of the on-going assessment of all the active substances that were already on the market when the BPD entered into force and the authorisation of biocidal products containing these active substances … with a view to promoting the sustainable use of biocidal products.” Further, Member States also should focus on the “need to invest additional resources on enforcement activities to ensure that no product is illegally placed on their market and that biocidal products are properly labelled.”

The EC’s report concludes by listing the following actions that it intends to pursue, and invites Member States to collaborate with the EC to do the same:

  • Focus and strengthen efforts on the review programme of existing active substances to ensure it is completed at the latest by 2024;
  • Ensure that once active substances are approved, product authorisations are granted, amended, or cancelled within 3 years;
  • Invest additional resources on enforcement activities;
  • Benefit from the legislative tools available, in particular by closely following the developments of best available techniques reference documents (BREF) that can be relevant for biocidal products used in industrial processes;
  • Encourage communication and awareness raising campaigns to inform end users, through websites, in-store leaflets or videos, quick response codes on biocidal products, etc.;
  • Encourage the development and implementation of standards (e.g., under the European Committee for Standardization), that could contribute to the sustainable use of biocidal products; and
  • Welcome research initiatives on the sustainable use of biocides and alternatives to biocidal products.

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