Companies share alternatives to hazardous chemicals in new online tool

24 May 2012

European environmental and labour groups and consultancies today, May 24, present a concrete tool where companies can share and find substitutes to problematic chemicals they want to phase out. The tool, SUBSPORT, is an online platform giving guidance on how to find safer alternatives to some of the most hazardous chemicals in use worldwide. It contains numerous practi­cal real-case examples from companies and others on successful substitution efforts.

The pressure on companies to produce and use less toxic products is growing as stricter legislations are introduced and consumer awareness increases. To be able to phase out problematic substances, companies are faced with the challenge of finding safer alternative chemicals or technologies. An information exchange platform, SUBSPORT – the Substitution Support Portal, has been set up to guide companies in this effort.

– Substitution can be a complex, time and money consuming process. But it can also be relatively quick and easy, if you can find inspiration from what others have already done, says Lothar Lißner, Managing Director at Kooperationsstelle Hamburg IFE.

The growing case story database, today containing around 100 substitution stories, presents examples of how problematic chemicals and materials such as perfluorinated substances, brominated flame retardants, PVC and perchloroethylene have been substituted.

– The objective of this site is to ensure transparency of information contributing to create a society with less chemical hazards, says Søren Larsen, Country Managing Director of Grontmij in Denmark.

The case stories have been provided by a wide range of stakeholders, from large multinationals and small companies, trade unions, and hospitals to universities and public procurement departments.

– At Skanska we substituted the "old” injectable mortar for concrete anchoring with a new developed product which is significantly safer to use. For us it is important to share that example of substitution through the SUBSPORT case story database as it goes well with our work as a leading green project developer and constructor and the need to show safer alternatives are available, comments Eva-Lena Carlén-Johansson, Manager Sustainability Projects at Skanska.

– We see that companies are willing to share their experiences of overcoming substitution challenges and we call on more companies to provide substitution examples to SUBSPORT, so that there are more examples there to guide others, says Anne-Sofie Andersson, Director at ChemSec.

The web portal aims to be the first entry point for anyone interested in substituting hazardous chemicals. It offers a free-of-charge, multilingual platform for infor­mation exchange on alternative substances and technologies, as well as tools and guidance for substance evaluation and substitution management.

– SUBSPORT will help workers and their representatives identify safer alternatives to hazardous chemicals and improve working conditions, says Pedro J. Linares, Confederal Secretary of health and safety of the Spanish union CCOO.

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