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Substitution portal : moving towards safer alternatives (SUBSPORT)
Start date: Jan 1, 2010, End date: Mar 31, 2013 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Background According to a study on REACH, around 100 000 different chemical substances are currently on the market among which 30 000 are believed to be used in amounts exceeding 1 tonne/year. Of these substances, an estimated 60% have properties rendering them dangerous in the meaning of Directive 67/548/EEC and a substantial share of these are believed to cause serious harm, including cancer, gene defects, reprotoxic effects, and nervous or behavioural changes. Bio-accumulative substances build up in the food chain, and their effects may occur long after exposure and be irreversible in terms of threats to biodiversity, the functioning of ecosystems and human health. Although improvements related to the control of substances have been achieved, substitution is at the top of the hierarchy of measures for risk management under the Chemical Agents Directive. It can be defined as an overarching strategy to eliminate or reduce risks related to the use of hazardous substances by replacing their “functionality” either by other, less hazardous substances or by technological or organisational solutions. Objectives The main goal of the project was to facilitate successful substitution of chemical substances significantly by reliable and structured information and tools. It aimed to create a web portal on substituting hazardous substances (SVHC) with safer alternatives. (The reduction of exposures to hazardous substances (e.g. by installing waste water treatment plants) does not count as substitution.) It would produce initial content that can be adjusted and extended after the LIFE project. Furthermore, the project would develop and perform training measures in selected Member States, raise (and measure) awareness on substitution needs and encountered difficulties, and finally, set up a lasting network of at least 50 stakeholders. Results The SUBSPORT project was successful in providing the much-needed information on practical substitution of hazardous chemicals by safer and more sustainable alternatives and setting up technical and organisational systems. It also developed into an internationally acknowledged stakeholder, contributing to all the relevant initiatives in this field. Companies were initially very reluctant to share their substitution knowledge, but the acquisition of case studies improved following the successful launch of the database. The excellent website ( has become a world leading portal on substitution. This site represents the central output of the project and provides access to the database of substitution case stories and the restricted and priority substances database. At the end of the project, the database offered 330 published case stories, 31 lists of restricted substances and descriptions of tools for the work on substitution. Most of the web content comes in four languages (English, French, German and Spanish). New content will be published after the end of LIFE project. Training and dissemination activities, which exceeded the foreseen scope, were also successfully carried out. The trainings had very good feed back and found audiences beyond Europe. Training activities will continue after the LIFE project ( SUBSPORT was presented at more than 65 events, publicised on more than 80 websites, demonstrating that the project met the existing need for comprehensive and practical information. This need became even greater over the course of the project period due to higher legislative demand for substitution. The REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals) process is restricting or banning an increasing number of substances. Moreover, customers are demanding green products and companies are increasingly looking to fulfil these demands. Concerning the impact on policy areas, the project achieved some remarkable results such as the presentation of SUBSPORT at many events and meetings of ECHA (European Chemicals Agency)as well as its inclusion into the ROHS Directive guidelines and in the substitution toolbox of the OECD Programme for Sound Management of Chemicals. Further information on the project can be found in the project's layman report and After-LIFE Communication Plan (see "Read more" section).

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