29 Apr 2016

DIGITALEUROPE Comments on the proposal to introduce a chemical tax on certain electronic products

DIGITALEUROPE Comments on the proposal to introduce a chemical tax on certain electronic products

DIGITALEUROPE, the association representing the digital technology industry in Europe, wishes to thank the Swedish authorities for the opportunity to provide comments on the amended proposal to introduce a chemical tax on certain electronic products.

In general, our members support the goal of reducing the use of hazardous substances. However, we question the appropriateness of the proposal as the most effective and scientifically sound means of phasing out the use of certain chemicals in products. Indeed, the proposed tax is not based on science, contains a number of inaccurate statements and we believe will not lead to the desired goal. We’re specifically concerned that the tax is based on the flame retardant technical property (if additive or reactive) and not on the environmental and health aspects of the substance which is the case in all chemical legislation. A serious consequence of this is that substances with documented good properties will be taxed and those with less desirable properties will get maximum tax reduction.

Flame retardants are used to comply with international product safety standards, i.e. to protect the user in case of an improper use of the product or in case of a product fault, thereby by either eliminating a potential fire or delaying its development. The flame retardants are an integral part in the materials they protect. Neither KEMI nor the investigator has provided any scientific references to support their emission concerns. In fact, exposure to certain flame retardants is extremely low, hardly detectable for new products and according to the studies referenced later in the document does not pose a risk to the user, adults or children.

The investigation states that the proposed tax can be implemented as it protects the environment and the health of the general public. However, the investigation fails to deliver a scientific risk assessment. The national tax would clearly constitute a barrier to trade. As such, we are concerned that the law could impede import and manufacture of goods in Sweden, in contrary to the intended requirements under REACH.

For the above-stated reasons as well as additional details presented in the attachment, we call on the Swedish authorities to discard the proposed chemical tax, and alternatively to resend it for further investigation where industry experts would be invited to participate.

While we support the work on chemicals and we are of the view that it should be given high priority, we don’t believe that a national tax would be the most appropriate tool.

We look forward to a dialogue with the competent authorities and trust that our comments will be given the appropriate attention.

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