Chemical Alternatives Assessments
Alternatives Assessment in Regulatory Policy: History and Future Directions
Published:17 Apr 2013
J. A. Tickner, K. Geiser, C. Rudisill, and J. N. Schifano, in Chemical Alternatives Assessments, ed. R. M. Harrison, R. E. Hester, R. Harrison, and R. Hester, The Royal Society of Chemistry, 2013, pp. 256-295.
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As the use of alternatives assessment as a tool to support the adoption of safer chemicals continues to evolve, the role of government in forming successful policies and initiatives needs thoughtful analysis. Although many chemical policies restricting or phasing out chemicals exist, very few mandate alternatives assessment or have adequate frameworks or tools to support successful implementation while avoiding regrettable substitutions. This chapter explores the justification and rationale for requiring alternatives assessment in the formation of chemical policies that support ‘informed substitution.’ A historical and current overview of chemical restriction and alternatives assessment policies is then provided and also a typology of current policies and initiatives that require or incentivize alternatives assessments. Five case studies highlighting regulatory policies requiring alternatives assessments, along with other examples, are used to support several lessons learned for future government policies that support informed substitution. Taken together, these policies illustrate that (1) there is a need for policies that require alternatives assessment, (2) carefully designed incentives and disincentives can encourage adoption safer alternatives, (3) alternatives assessment requirements should be tied to initiatives that incentivize adoption of safer alternatives and (4) there is a need for clear, yet flexible guidance and criteria for alternatives assessment processes. Although alternatives assessment requirements are necessary, it is critical that they not become overly prescriptive, burdensome or scientized in a way that inhibits their ability to achieve the goal of safer chemistry.