How to substitute?
Substituting substances is not necessarily a simple replacement of one chemical with another. You need to do your homework and there is no "one size fits all". Methods that work in one company may not work for your product or process. One approach you can use to address your substitution challenge is functional substitution, where you consider the specific function of the substance and how it could be met by alternatives in a broad sense – covering not only the substance itself but also aspects such as production techniques and product design. You may also need to try several alternatives before you find the best one. In your assessment, beyond the consideration of the hazard, exposure, technical performance and economic aspects, it is important to also look at wider effects, where these are relevant, such as energy and resource use, waste, recycling and socio-economic impacts. If you choose to develop a brand new product, consider an approach that takes into account safety and sustainability across its entire lifecycle.
Once you have prioritised your substances and selected some of them as candidates for substitution, it is time to look for potential alternatives. Setting the scope of the substitution project is critical given that this is the step where you determine:
(a) the level of stakeholder engagement you intend to undertake;
(b) the goals and principles underlying the project; and
(c) decision criteria on which alternative to choose.
Setting the scope of the substitution project also involves establishing boundaries for the assessment. This helps to focus resources and outline a plan to assess alternatives, including planning which health effects, exposure pathways, life cycle segments, and technical functionality/performance attributes need to be considered.
As a first step, you should carefully consider if there is a real need for the technical functionality provided by the substance of concern and/or if there are other ways of achieving the same goal. For example, do you really need to provide your customers with a printed receipt that may contain hazardous ink developers, or would an electronic receipt be a suitable alternative? As you think of possible safer alternatives, look into your options more widely, such as the substances, techniques and product designs that you could use.
- ECHA's Substances of very high concern Roadmap
EU-wide commitment to having all relevant currently known substances of very high concern (SVHCs) included in the Candidate List by 2020
- ECHA's Candidate List
Lists substances of very high concern that may be included in the Authorisation List
- ECHA's Authorisation List
List of substances for which you need prior authorisation under REACH
- ECHA's List of recommendations for inclusion in the Authorisation List
- ECHA's Web pages on REACH Authorisation
Examples of analysis of alternatives performed by companies
- List of Restrictions
- ECHA's Registry of intentions
Lists substances that have been proposed for harmonised classification, restriction or as substances of very high concern
- ECHA's Webpages on chemicals
Hazardous properties, databases, Biocidal Active Substances, Biocidal products, chemicals that are subject to the PIC Regulation, and information on how to use chemicals safely
- ECHA's C&L Inventory
Contains basic classification and labelling information on notified and registered substances received from manufacturers and importers
- ECHA's Public Activities Coordination Tool (PACT)
Substances considered for further assessment – RMOA and informal hazard assessment (PBT/vPvB and endocrine disruptors)
- The Community rolling action plan (CoRAP)
Specifies the substances that will be evaluated over of the next three years
- OECD eChemPortal
Information on the properties of chemicals
A database on toxic and hazardous substances
- SIN list
The "Substitute it now" list from environmental organisations
- Trade Union Priority List for REACH Authorisation
List of potential endocrine disruptors
- OECD Substitution toolbox: A compilation of resources relevant to chemical substitution and alternatives assessments.
- SUBSPORT: Alternative substances and technologies, with tools and guidance for substance evaluation and substitution management.
- Toxics Use Reduction Institute (TURI): The Toxics Use Reduction Institute (TURI) at the University of Massachusetts Lowell provides resources and tools to help businesses, municipalities, and communities in Massachusetts find safer alternatives to toxic chemicals.
- European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA): EU-OSHA provides a number of resources in relation to chemicals at the workplace, including on their substitution.
- Chemsec Marketplace: Online platform enabling buyers and sellers of alternatives to hazardous chemicals to interact.
- CORDIS database of projects under the EU Research and Innovation funding programmes: CORDIS provides information on all EU-supported R&D activities, including programmes (H2020, FP7 and older), projects, results, and publications.
- SUBSPORTplus: database of chemical and non-chemical alternatives to hazardous substances.