Featuring contributions from Tjeerd Hendel-Blackford, Mark Atkinson, Larissa Copello, Catarina Hastesko and Veronika Krupcikova
You asked and we answered!
Enhesa’s team of multilingual regulatory analysts are committed to providing quality insight and analysis around the latest EHS news and developments via our Enhesa Flash, webinar series, and blog posts. In response, our team often receives a variety of questions regarding the broad realm of the EHS topics we cover. To meet this demand, we launched “Ask Enhesa”, a reoccurring blog series where our senior thought leaders will take the lead in answering all of your most relevant and topical EHS questions.
Let’s get started…
What are the expectations that globally a system comparable to the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) will be developed in the short term?
MA: I think we’ve seen a lot of significant developments over the last couple of years concerning emissions trading schemes. The example that springs to mind is the link that was agreed between California and Quebec in 2013, which as of this year has also been extended to include Ontario. Recently we saw the establishment of a nationwide ETS across China. I saw that it’s expected to cover over 3 billion tons of carbon dioxide each year, which in terms of volume and population size I would say is more than comparable to the EU. However, it’s not yet ready to link with other jurisdictions, preferring to see how the system plays out at home first. So, although we don’t see a system quite as developed as the EU ETS, I think it’s fair to say that we do have some comparable systems emerging in other regions albeit still on a more domestic level. Mexico is another country which is aiming to establish its ETS platform this year, although I believe the plan there is to make the system voluntary. But still plenty to be encouraged by.
If we’re talking in terms of a truly global system where say the EU were to link with the California model, I think that is a long way off. I suppose it depends on how you want to define short term but in any case, not before 2030 if the EU wants to stick to its current timetable.
What are the regulatory trends in Latin America regarding national chemical inventories?
LC: In regard to the regulation of the management of chemical substances in Latin-America, there are not a remarkable number of initiatives in place yet. As of 2017, only Colombia and Brazil have started raising the topic.
In Colombia, there is currently a proposal to regulate the management of chemical substances for industrial use, under which manufacturers and importers would have to register chemical substances, to provide an assessment of their hazards and develop programs for the management of risks to human health and the environment.
Brazil is currently working on a proposal Decree on the control of dangerous substances in electrical and electronic equipment based on the EU RoHs 2 [‘rose’] Directive. The Ministry of the Environment recently ran a public consultation on this proposal which ended just a couple of weeks ago.
Also, in the mid of 2016, the Brazilian National Commission on Chemical Safety (CONASQ) conducted a public consultation on a draft law proposal for a REACH-like regulation. The proposal would establish a set of specific requirements for producers and importers of industrial chemicals, such as the identification of the producer or importer; the CAS Registry Number of the industrial chemical, its structural formula, the track of the quantity produced or imported per year, the uses of it, and its hazard classification according to the GHS. The Brazilian National Commission on Chemical Safety is currently evaluating the responses to the consultation, after which it will approve the final text of an amended draft law – although there is no timeframe for this available as yet.
How would BREFs [Best Available Technique Reference Documents] impact the EU's position to compete with the rest of the world? (As the rest of the world is following less strict compliance than the EU)
VK: This sounds more of an economics question! I believe what they meant was whether the EU can compete economically with less enviro-friendly giants like the US and China if it sets strict limits on emissions.
First, it is not the BREF, but BATs that are binding for Member States. We would have to do a more in-depth analysis to check if the limits are in fact stricter elsewhere outside the EU, but let’s assume they are for now, as most EU Regulations on the environment are.
Of course stricter limits and requirements also mean higher production costs, the BATs cover various industry sectors, including production of LVOC, non-ferrous metals, waste incineration and large combustion plants. In addition, companies can be held liable for environmental damage in EU Member States, a concept which does not exist in some other regions.
However, stricter requirements can motivate companies to look for the use of better technology, which can help reduce the production costs. In addition, ensuring environmental protection saves money on restoring it and also reduces the toll on human health (thus also health care costs). In fact, the BAT conclusions concentrate on the restriction of the most harmful air pollutants, namely:
- particulate matter (PM)
- carbon oxide (CO)
- nitrogen oxides (NOX) and
- sulfur dioxide (SO2).
So in conclusion, yes, stricter environmental regulation can, to a certain extent, influence the EU’s competitiveness on the market, however environmental protection remains a priority in the EU. It should also be noted that the EU’s policy to lead by example is often mirrored by other regions, for example China followed its example in relation vehicle/gasoline fuels
What are the global regulatory trends for product stewardship type regulations? [THB]
CH: We are actually preparing a separate webinar to look into this topic more specifically…In researching that webinar we’ve found for example that in Asia Pacific we see many initiatives to start collecting information about chemicals placed on the market with the introduction of notification schemes, as well as other more englobing schemes like Korea-REACH. In China they are planning to tighten enforcement and adopt new regulations on hazardous chemicals. Hazardous material transport will also be a new focus point.
In Europe it’s all about product life-cycles and the circular economy approach will be a main focus in the coming years. We might also see more initiatives like the Swedish one, where they introduced taxes on electronics that contain specific listed hazardous substances.
In the US, the state of California for example continues to legislate on products independently. We also see a growing interest with companies to take initiatives on a voluntary basis on for example ingredient disclosure. In Canada and many Latin American countries, the focus will be on implementing GHS.
Stay tuned for our webinar.
Can Enhesa’s services be used as part of an EHS manage system like ISO 14001 or 45001, for use as a “legal register”?
THB: The short answer is “yes”, Enhesa’s Compliance Intelligence and Regulatory Forecaster service meet the needs of EHS management system standards with regards to a company’s legal obligations. Our services were designed and have evolved to meet the needs of the main EHS standards used around the world today – most notably ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001 (which will be replaced by ISO 45001 in March 2018).
However, the question is worth looking at in more depth. How would you define a “legal register”? Where does the phrase come from? If you google the term “legal register”, you get a multitude of responses and your bed-time reading would be taken care of for several weeks. If you work with companies every day that come to you asking for “legal registers”, which we do, you realize that the concept is even harder to pin down and pretty much everyone will have their own opinion on the matter.
The phrase has become common parlance for EHS professionals involved in implementing and maintaining site, country, regional or company-wide EHS management systems. Interestingly, however, the term “legal register” is not actually mentioned anywhere in the standards – it has just become the standard all-encompassing phrase for what these provisions require.
Rather than legal registers with little practical use or benefits, the best practice that we see with our clients is to adopt a global approach that allows On-going Compliance Management. This involves creations of living “compliance registers” for each of your sites around the world. This fulfills the dual purpose of making companies aware of which laws apply to them, but also creating the possibility to assess, record and verify your compliance status continuously – not just when an audit is scheduled.
How can Enhesa’s services be used to provide metrics on compliance performance?
Enhesa’s Regulatory Compliance Intelligence (or “content”) is structured in a consistent structure across all our jurisdictions. We make sure all our content is clean and follows the same structure world-wide. So, all the Lock-out / Tag-out requirements will always be located under the same heading whether you’re in Japan, France or USA. This provides a solid data foundation to run advance analysis on compliance status and actions and even look for trends across your facilities. With a dashboard view of compliance that Enhesa’s service provides, you can have a view globally of the compliance status and performance of any of your sites, at any given time – including if they are not actually assessing their compliance correctly and staying on top of regulatory change.
Are there any countries Enhesa does not cover?
THB: The simple answer is no! However, we cover jurisdictions (national/federal as well as state/regional/provincial) based on client demand – we are not going to invest the considerable time and effort to research, analyze and monitor the EHS legislation from a particular jurisdiction, unless we have a client carrying out operations there for which they require our support.
Each year, Enhesa’s Production Team review the jurisdictions (Federal/National and State/Regional/Provincial legislative areas) where we currently support our client base. This “catalogue” represents jurisdictions where we have sufficient client demand to commit to updating them at least quarterly, and providing them to new clients “off-the-shelf”.
As a result, today, Enhesa is able to offer off-the-shelf services in an impressive 286 jurisdictions. However, in reality, there are even more locations that we can cover – so the list is non-exhaustive. We always take a pragmatic view on expanding our coverage, and sometimes it does not make sense for us or the client to do that – but we always look into it and never say never!