The European Commission recently published a report on the sustainable use of biocides. The report concludes that processes laid down in the Regulation, such as the active substance approval, product authorisation, or the comparative assessment of biocidal products which aims the phasing-out of dangerous substances where less hazardous alternatives are available, are important contributions to the objective of fostering the sustainable use of biocidal products. The report also concludes that the completion of this on-going assessment of all active substances and the authorisation of biocidal products containing these active substances shall be the main priority in view of promoting the sustainable use of biocidal products.
Member States as well as industry need thus to concentrate their efforts and resources on substance approval and product authorisation.
In addition, Member States will need to invest additional resources on enforcement activities to ensure that no product is illegally placed on their market and that biocidal products are properly labelled.
With regard to possible additional measures, to reduce the risks posed to human health, animal health and the environment by biocidal products, the study concluded that the risks are already appropriately addressed by measures imposed through the conditions of approval of active substances or the authorisation of biocidal products.
More particularly, for professional users, the study concluded that the control measures applied under EU worker health and safety legislation as well as chemicals legislation combined with the risk mitigation measures specified at the stage of the biocidal product authorisation were sufficient – if adhered to – to address risk from exposure.
Furthermore, due to the very diverse nature of biocidal products and the variety of applications, it does not seem appropriate to simply extend the scope of the Framework Directive on the Sustainable Use of Pesticides to biocidal products. Instead, the key objectives of that Directive in relation to biocidal products can be achieved through different means and more targeted actions. For the same reasons, extending the scope of the Machinery Directive to biocidal products does not seem appropriate either.
With regard to the means and targeted actions, the correct, safe and sustainable use of biocidal products requires the availability and effective dissemination of appropriate guidance or information, whether that use be in a professional context or not.
For industrial use, when BREFs are developed, best practice guidelines on the use of biocidal products should, where relevant, be incorporated.
For professional use, developing guidance documents, providing training and certification of the users on application of best practices, go hand in hand.
For non-professional use, emphasis should be put on the provisions in the authorisation and the labelling of the product. Technical solutions like smart tags or quick response codes (QR) providing a link to the authorisation holder’s website can be helpful to allow users to refer to specific product properties and use instructions.
In conclusion, the Commission will pursue the following actions, and invite Member States to do the same:
• focus and strengthen efforts on the review programme of existing active substances to ensure it is completed at the latest by end 2024;
• ensure that once active substances are approved, product authorisations are granted, amended or cancelled within 3 years;
• invest additional resources on enforcement activities;
• benefit from the legislative tools available, in particular by closely following the developments of BREFs that can be relevant for biocidal products used in industrial processes;
• encourage communication and awareness raising campaigns to inform endusers, through websites, in-store leaflets or videos, quick response codes on biocidal products, etc.;
• encourage the development and implementation of standards (e.g. under CEN) that could contribute to the sustainable use of biocidal products;
• welcome research initiatives on the sustainable use of biocides and alternatives to biocidal products.