EC-proposal may force companies to pay for chemically polluted water bodies

EC-proposal may force companies to pay for chemically polluted water bodies

Let companies contribute to water purification in the event of damage caused by chemical substances

The extended producer responsibility in the sustainability strategy offers, according to EurEau, the possibility to make polluting companies pay for expensive water treatment technologies. Photo: Water News Europe.

" The principle of 'extended producer responsibility' can force companies to pay for treating polluted water caused by chemical substances", states  Michaël  Bentvelsen of the European Federation of National Associations of Water Services, EurEau,  Eureau.  He comments on the EU Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability  the European Commission (EC) published  the 14th of October.

In the  strategy for chemicals , part of the 'EU Green Deal', the European Commission describes the steps required to achieve a 'non-toxic environment'. The Commission also wants to ensure chemicals are produced and used in such a way they can make the greatest possible contribution to society. At the same time the Commission wants to prevent damage to the planet and to future generations. For example, the strategy foresees the most harmful chemicals - so-called substances of very high concern - will be avoided for uses that are not essential to society. Furthermore all industrial chemicals should be used safer and more sustainably.

Tackle pollution at its source

“The most important way to prevent environmental impact of chemicals is at the source. If chemicals are not discharged, water companies don't have to remove them in wastewater treatment plants”, says Bentvelsen. With this approach an extra water treatment step is not necessary. If this is not sufficiently implemented, then we have to revert to extended producer responsibility. According to Michaël Bentvelsen 'extented producer responsibility' offers the possibility to implement the 'polluter pays principle'. Those who damage the environment with chemical substances would have to pay for expensive water treatment technologies. This also applies to chemical companies producing chemical substances and discharging according their permit requirements.

by Adriaan Van Hooijdonk