Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

European Union Outpaces United States On Chemical Safety

Date:
January 5, 2007
Source:
Brown University
Summary:
New stricter European environmental policies may force even U.S.-based electronics makers to change their ways, say policy analysts at Brown University and Boston University. Stacy D. VanDeveer, a visiting fellow at Brown University's Watson Institute for International Studies, and Henrik Selin, an assistant professor of international relations at Boston University, analyzed the controversial new policies in the December issue of the journal Environment.

Recently, the European Union has adopted some of the world’s strictest policies on e-waste and potentially hazardous chemicals. Economic and environmental impacts of the new regulations will be felt far beyond Europe, says Stacy D. VanDeveer, a visiting fellow at Brown University’s Watson Institute for International Studies. VanDeveer co-authored an article this month in the journal Environment with Henrik Selin, an assistant professor of international relations at Boston University, analyzing the ripple effect that is likely to touch electronics manufacturers and chemical companies worldwide.

Related Articles


In particular, three recent E.U. environmental policies are gradually being implemented across the 27 European Union member nations. Two e-waste directives, adopted in 2003, require manufacturers to dispose of consumers’ used electronic equipment free of charge and prohibit the export of hazardous waste to developing countries for disposal. This week a new regulation, titled REACH (registration, evaluation and authorization of chemicals) was adopted, requiring registration and selective evaluation of more than 30,000 existing chemical substances, as well as new ones.

The rules affect products including household appliances, toys, computers and many more. “The e-waste problem has grown dramatically,” said VanDeveer, “as hundreds of millions of cell phones, TVs, computers and other electronic products containing a host of hazardous substances are consumed and discarded in the United States and around the globe.”

The European Union policies are controversial. On the one hand, the rules address growing concern about the ecological and human health risks posed by discarded chemicals and electrical and electronic products. But critics in U.S. government and industry point to the potential for billions of dollars of costs and jobs lost.

VanDeveer and Selin argue that most firms operate in multiple markets and prefer to produce their products to as few different standards as possible. They often follow the highest regulatory standard, rather than trying to cope with different manufacturing processes for different markets. As a result, if a U.S. company such as Hewlett-Packard or Dell needs to redesign its laptops or substitute chemicals used in production to meet E.U. standards, they are likely to make the same changes in laptops made and bought outside the European Union.

The size of the European market (more than 485 million citizens) will push manufacturers in the United States and Asia to meet European standards and will increase the availability of “green” products globally, contend the authors. Additionally, the new toxic risk information generated by REACH may allow environmental advocates in the United States and elsewhere to focus their efforts with specific, supportable data.

In the 1970s and ’80s, the United States effectively set many global product standards for consumer and environmental protection. Today, Europe is playing this role, while U.S. government and industry oppose the resulting standards in Europe and in international arenas. Critics of the European Union’s policies project costs in the billions of dollars, while defenders argue that any increased costs incurred by manufacturers have previously been borne by consumers, the environment, and waste contractors handling thousands of toxic substances.

In this complicated arena, there is even some discrepancy between the European Union’s own economic policies and environmental ones, the article says. VanDeveer and Selin see Europe facing “the critical challenge of formulating and implementing a coherent strategy for promoting economic growth that is socially and environmentally sustainable.” As it does, the authors conclude, the rest of the world should take note.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Brown University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Brown University. "European Union Outpaces United States On Chemical Safety." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 January 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/01/070103110258.htm>.
Brown University. (2007, January 5). European Union Outpaces United States On Chemical Safety. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/01/070103110258.htm
Brown University. "European Union Outpaces United States On Chemical Safety." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/01/070103110258.htm (accessed December 20, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Earth & Climate News

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Lava on Track to Hit Hawaii Market

Raw: Lava on Track to Hit Hawaii Market

AP (Dec. 19, 2014) Lava from an active volcano on Hawaii's Big Island slowed slightly but stayed on track to hit a shopping center in the small town of Pahoa. (Dec. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Birds Might Be Better Meteorologists Than Us

Birds Might Be Better Meteorologists Than Us

Newsy (Dec. 19, 2014) A new study suggests a certain type of bird was able to sense a tornado outbreak that moved through the U.S. a day before it hit. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 18, 2014) The U.S. Navy unveils an underwater device that mimics the movement of a fish. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Arctic Warming Twice As Fast As Rest Of Planet

Arctic Warming Twice As Fast As Rest Of Planet

Newsy (Dec. 18, 2014) The Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet, thanks in part to something called feedback. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins