SUBSPORT - Substitution Support Portal

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Dr. Isabella Banduch, Kooperationsstelle Hamburg IFE, Dr Ellen Scmitz-Felten, Kooperationsstelle Hamburg IFE, Dolores Romano, European Environmental Bureau

Logo subsport.jpg

Introduction

Substitution is a core action to reduce the risks that hazardous chemicals pose to the environment and public health. However, finding a safer substitute can be a challenging task – the SUBSPORT web portal is a resource to facilitate this work.

SUBSPORT is 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 collects enterprise reports and similar documents on substitution as core of its information portfolio. Experience demonstrates that employers and workers learn best from good practices in other enterprises, from those companies that successfully use substitutes in their processes. Due to the variety of target groups, SUBSPORT provides specific access points to information, i.e. different levels of detail, adapted language and various navigation options.

Aims

The SUBSPORT information portal is intended to constitute a state-of-the-art resource on safer alternatives to the use of hazardous chemicals. The portal aims to be the first entry point for anyone interested in substituting hazardous chemicals, to support companies in fulfilling substitution requirements within EU legislation, such as those specified under the REACH authorisation procedure, the ‘Water’ Framework Directive or the ‘Chemical Agents’ Directive, as well as being a resource for other stakeholders such as authorities, environmental and consumer organisations, and scientific institutions. It aims to promote the sharing and exchange of practice: users of SUBSPORT can share their substitution experience in the case story database.

Key features

The following information is publicly available in four languages (English, French, German and Spanish). Some information is also available in Serbian:

Legal substitution requirements

This section of the database presents an overview of regulations and international agreements covering the issue of substitution, whether they refer to substitution directly or are closely related. Links to the original documents as well as archived copies are also provided.

Restricted and Priority Substances Database

An often used starting point of web site visitors is the SUBSPORT ‘Restricted and Priority Substances Database’. It encompasses 34 lists of hazardous substances that are legally or voluntarily restricted by authorities or companies, or proposed for restrictions by trade unions or NGOs. A specific section offers additional guidance on how to identify substances of concern in the form of an overview of the criteria and definitions most commonly used by different stakeholders.

Substitution Case Stories

A core element of SUBSPORT is the Case Story Database containing app. 370 practical examples of substitution. Many of these case stories have been provided directly by companies. The case stories can serve as inspiration and offer concrete help to companies or organisations searching for substitutes to hazardous chemicals, as well as prove useful in e.g. procurement and in legislative processes such as the authorisation process of the EU chemicals regulation REACH or the Directive on protection of workers against carcinogens and mutagens. Substances mentioned in the case stories are pre-evaluated regarding hazards according to the SUBSPORT methodology (Alternative Assessment Methodology, see below).

Extensive Substitution Assessments

A more detailed alternatives assessment is available for 9 substances or groups of substances of high concern:

  1. chloroalkanes
  2. chromium VI and compounds
  3. bisphenol A
  4. lead and its inorganic compounds
  5. nonylphenol and ethoxylates
  6. tetrachloroethylene
  7. formaldehyde
  8. brominated flame retardant: hexabromocyclododecane (HBCDD)
  9. parabens (methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben)

Alternative Assessment Methodology

To guarantee a quality of substitution case stories SUBSPORT developed a harmonised Alternative Assessment Methodology. All case stories in the Case Story Database are assessed according to this methodology.

Specific Substances Alternatives Assessments Methodology

To establish a process that creates consistent and comparable assessments of substitutes for the selected chemicals, yet comprehensive and efficient, SUBSPORT developed a Specific Substances Alternatives Assessments Methodology in cooperation with the Toxics Use Reduction Institute (TURI) in Massachusetts. This SUBSPORT methodology should be applied when conducting an alternatives assessment for the Specific Section of the Case Story Database. It can also be used for company’s alternatives assessments. The general protocol contains the following steps:

  • Profiling chemicals
  • Identifying functions and uses
  • Identifying potential substitutes
  • Screening out regrettable substitutions
  • Characterising alternatives
  • Comparing Alternatives

SUBSPORT Screening Criteria (SDSC)

To avoid regrettable substitutions SUBSPORT Screening Criteria (SDSC) are provided for basic alternatives assessment. All substances and alternatives are checked for the identification of hazards using the following sources:

  • the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA, C&L Inventory database) for the substances included in the EU harmonized classification 
  • the hazardous Substance Database according to SUBSPORT Screening Criteria SDSC, for the hazards of equivalent concern not included in the EU harmonized classification and for IARC carcinogens

SUBSPORT screening criteria

Criteria

Definition

CMR

CLP Regulation cat. 1A, 1B (Dir. 67/548, cat. 1 and 2)

IARC cat. 1, 2A, 2B

(v)P(v)BT

REACH Regulation – Annex XIII

EC PBT Working Group

OSPAR List of substances of possible concern

Endocrine disruptors

OECD Report

EU Endocrine disruptors database cat. 1, 2

SIN list database

Neurotoxicants

Vela, Laborda, Garcia Study, 2003, cat. 2-4

Sensitisation agents

CLP Regulation for H334, H317 (Dir. 67/548, for R42, R43)

Other Substitution and Alternatives Assessment Tools

Furthermore, the SUBSPORT web portal presents common methods and tools for assessing alternatives, as well as guidance of which tools are most useful for different kinds of assessments, which level of knowledge they require etc.

The following assessment tools are further explained in the SUBSPORT web portal:

  1. Column Model for Chemical Substitutes Assessment
  2. COSHH Essentials
  3. Technical Rules for Hazardous Substances (TRGS) 600
  4. Substitution Green Screen for Safer Chemicals
  5. Determination and work with code numbered products (MAL Code)
  6. Pollution Prevention Options Analysis System (P2OASys)
  7. Priority-Setting Guide (PRIO)
  8. Quick Scan
  9. Stockholm Convention Alternatives Guidance
  10. Stoffenmanager

Training and seminars

SUBSPORT offers training sessions in different languages on substitution and alternatives assessment. These training sessions are discussion-based and focus on experiences of the participants, consisting of short introductions and practical exercises in working groups. The overall goal of the Alternatives Identification and Assessment training is to provide basic concepts and tools to help participants to get started in substitution processes.

SUBSPORT in Serbian: Serbia Substitutes

Through the project Serbia Substitutes, which ran from December 2013 to September 2014, selected content of the SUBSPORT website has been made available in Serbian. The Serbian language version is implemented on the separate subdomain rs.subsport.eu due to technical reasons. The project was run in cooperation with ALHem – Safer Chemicals Alternative (Alternativa za bezbednije hemikalije) www.alhem.rs and it received financial support from The Royal Norwegian Embassy in Belgrade www.norveska.org.rs

SUBSPORT Textile

SUBSPORT has been extended with case stories and information specific to the textile industry (SUBSPORT Textile). Current activities in this area are among others the ‘Roadmap to Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals ZDHC‘, an initiative by a group of major apparel and footwear brands and retailers, which aims to eliminate the use of groups of problematic chemicals and the Greenpeace Detox campaign launched in 2011. The big global textile brands have committed to eliminating releases of hazardous chemicals from their supply chains and products by 2020. So far 79 companies have signed the Greenpeace's detox commitment. According to the commitment, textile companies have to publish substitution case stories on SUBSPORT.

In addition to the already existing SUBSPORT portfolio the following major chapters have been added:

  • textile-specific case stories from enterprises and literature with descriptions of alternative substances and technologies in the textile sector in English and German in the Case Story Database. Find textile-specific case stories here

Project team

The SUBSPORT portal was developed between 2010 and 2013 by a project team:

Since 2013 SUBSPORT has been solely run by Kooperationsstelle Hamburg IFE GmbH.

Financial Support

SUBSPORT was developed through funding from the following organisations (2010-2013):

SUBSPORT Textile was developed through funding from the following organisation (2013-2015):

Contributors

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