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EU regulation creates pressures
Monday, 02 October 2006 00:00

Derek Carpenter of Enviro Tech Europe Limited says that Europe is making things more difficult for the finishing industry.

It would be surprising if any business in the manufacturing sector was not being affected by EU Directives.

One industry that is heavily affected is the chemical sector.  The use of chemicals touches everyone’s daily life and is therefore a subject everyone can engage in.

Chemical use can be generally broken down into two groups, domestic and industrial.

Inevitably, regulation is directed at industry to resolve perceived issues and this implies that industry is expected to carry the overall burden.

Chemical manufacture is seen by many as a necessary evil.  Yet without them our quality of life and advancement would cease.

The perception of many is that chemical volumes increase year on year and so health and environment risks must be increasing.  In reality this is untrue.

Over the last two years the movement of chemicals in the United Kingdom alone has reduced by up to 1 million tonnes!  Imagine the loss of revenue that this provided to industry to fund improvements.

One product group that suffers from being a soft target is solvents used in vapour degreasing.  At worst this sector contributes 4% of the solvents produced in Europe.  The paint manufacturing industry accounts for most, though I am sure they too will argue regulation has become silly.

Regulation in this sector has thrived and whilst industry meets the cost, the general public have been sold the idea that if the Scientists demand it we should accept it is for our greater good.

That is, until an observer looks a little closer and finds Governments are relying less and less on science and more on opinion.

The problem with regulatory groups is that their existence relies on regulating. They seldom allow time to complete a task before offering more regulation.  Talk to industry and their first concern is what these groups actually know about the practical use of what they regulate.  

We are not in the dark ages anymore.  Industry considers the chemical, the process, the risks and even whether chemical use can be eliminated or reduced.  It’s called being responsible and prudent.

My own company philosophy is to promote, encourage and achieve lower solvent use through a proven solvent reduction programme.  Many companies sadly do not follow our lead.

Like many I grew up in the chlorinated solvents sector and companies using 100 tonnes per annum and above were not uncommon.  Today you will find it hard to find one, though it is true too many exist in the 35 to 50 tonne per annum range, generally using Trichloroethylene, itself requiring early substitution.

Using our own product Ensolv, our aim is to get users below 2 tonnes per annum using excellent performance, good practice and engineering.  Using highly specialised partners throughout Europe we say what we mean and mean what we say.

For critical cleaning standards solvents in vapour degreasing systems are still the “proven” way.  If it works, is safer and uses minimum levels of product it is surely ideal for industry, helpful to regulators and reassuring for the community.

How much of this is considered by regulatory groups is not easy to say.  It is possible their knowledge of volumes of product actually being used is outdated.  

When using a “precautionary principle” which was never intended by the EU it is not too difficult for them to justify their actions.

The number of legal actions being taken against the EU is growing.  A day of reckoning may at times seem delayed but don’t be surprised if such scrutiny unfolds a good deal of unfairness in the regulatory process.  Time is the great revealer and the accountability that comes with government responsibility must never be replaced by indifference to the power that affects our lives.

It is generally felt a lot of confusion exists around vapour degreasing solvents.  Often, this is because choices seem to be reducing.

Never dismiss solvents in your assessments.  They are a natural and highly proven answer to your cleaning needs.

Ensolv carries the highest possible performance approvals from companies like Boeing and Airbus.  No obligation demonstrations are available in the UK and throughout Europe.

If you are one of the many required to substitute Trichloroethylene under the terms of the Solvent Emissions Directive, join the many who proved Ensolv was the best choice.


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