EU HIGHLIGHTS 01/2021
Chemicals: Name Your Poison!
As of 1 January 2021, the new obligations under the EU Classification, Labelling and Packaging of substances and mixtures (CLP) Regulation entered into force. The new rules concern Poison Centre Notifications (PCN) and Unique Formula Identifiers (UFI).
Eurogypsum’s Chemicals Working Group experts have compiled a memo to provide operational support and highlight the opportunities offered to gypsum product manufacturers, including improvements that were achieved through our intervention alongside other construction product associations. This memo will be updated in the following weeks, based on the feedback we receive from our members. Importantly: It supplements and does not intend to substitute existing guidance by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA).
On a separate note: the European Commission published a new Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability on 14 October 2020, outlining the new long-term vision of the EU chemicals policy. The document aims to ensure that all chemicals are used safely and sustainably according to the “do no harm” principle and striving for a toxic-free environment. The major action is the introduction of the “one substance one assessment” process for the risk and hazard assessment of chemicals, as data should be easily findable, interoperable, secure, shared and reused by default. Stemming from this Strategy there will follow some important legislation, for instance the Industrial Emissions Directive, that we will keep you posted about in due course.
Taxonomy: Channelling Green Investment into Our Sector
“Sustainable finance” is one of the four pillars of EU sustainability policies and a key component to reach 2030 climate and energy targets. Key to achieving these targets is a classification system for sustainable economic activities, the so-called “taxonomy”, that identifies those activities providing a substantial contribution – and those at least not significantly harming – key EU environmental objectives, such as climate change mitigation, adaptation of our societies to climate change, the protection of biodiversity, water resources, pollution avoidance and the achievement of a circular economy. It is therefore fundamental that our sector’s contribution to these objectives is duly recognised. Eurogypsum has submitted a contribution to the European Commission’s consultation on a draft act defining eligibility criteria for the climate mitigation and adaptation objectives. We are also working closely with colleagues from other associations in the NEEIP (Non-Energy Extractive Industries Panel) to shape future criteria for the other environmental objectives, as regards the mining, quarrying and processing sectors. To coordinate this important strategic work, a new “Taxonomy Task Force” has been established for Eurogypsum. You can contact our secretariat for further information on this Task Force.
Construction Products Regulation (CPR)
The last months of 2020 saw several opportunities for Eurogypsum and our members to present our views on the expected revision of the CPR. The German Presidency of the EU Council was instrumental in pushing this matter forward and showed some sympathy to the concerns expressed by construction product manufacturers.
Our CPR Working Group prepared input for a new stakeholder consultation on the revision of the regulation, which was posted shortly before Christmas.
Regarding implementation of the CPR, our colleague Michael Viebahn (BV Gips) presented on 12 November the industry’s good works on the preparation of the new standardisation request for gypsum products, speaking at a German Presidency symposium on the CPR
Indoor Noise Fire test
13 November 2020 marked the conclusion of the “NSir” joint research project led by our Acoustic Working Group in cooperation with insulation manufacturers’ association Eurima, commissioned to France’s CSTB and Belgium’s KU Leuven. The project demonstrated that the “pink noise” commonly used in acoustics does not represent indoor noise accurately, as it overestimates the presence of low frequencies in dwellings. New sound spectra were developed and analysed, showing promising results in view of proposing better sound insulation ratings. Further calculations and tests may be needed in future to enhance the robustness of these conclusions; the Acoustic Working Group will reconvene in 2021 to review the whole project and consider any further steps.
28 October 2020: Virtual Global Gypsum
9 December 2020: European Mining Convention, with our Secretary General Tristan Suffys as one of the speakers.
Energy efficiency in buildings: The Renovation Wave has arrived!
On 14 October 2020, the long-awaited Renovation Wave was finally published by the European Commission. The goal is to at least double renovation rates in the next ten years and make sure renovations lead to higher energy and resource efficiency. The strategy outlines the plan to renovate 35 million inefficient buildings, create 160,000 green jobs in the construction sector by 2030, and establish the European Bauhaus platform to combine sustainability and design. Finance via NextGenerationEU and other EU and private funds as well as market development for sustainable construction products are amongst the most relevant policy instruments foreseen. Read the Strategy here.
Emissions Trading System (ETS): Correcting Benchmarks
Our Climate Action Working Group, formerly called Energy Working Group, has worked in cooperation with the consultancy PwC to analyse the benchmarks proposed by the European Commission for the plaster and plasterboard manufacturing. Based on PwC’s report and further verification within the companies, we were able to show that the proposed benchmark values were too ambitious due to a number of reporting mistakes, which would unfairly penalise our factories with regard to access to free emission allowances for the period 2021-2025. This message was delivered in the official stakeholder consultation. A follow-up call with the Commission’s Climate Action services (DG CLIMA) took place on 8 January and further information will be shared with DG CLIMA in the coming days, to correct the values.
Biodiversity: Our Best Practices
Kudos to the members of our Quarry Working Group: our brochure portraying the best practices of biodiversity stewardship in gypsum quarrying has been updated and revamped, and it will be published soon.
Some of the case studies were presented as good examples of biodiversity management in quarries during your Secretary General’s virtual intervention at European Mining Convention on 9 December.
An online version of all case studies will also be published in a new section of our website within the coming days. Stay tuned!
Biodiversity: Joining Forces to Protect Species
The Quarry Working Group has also worked together with environmental NGO BirdLife Europe, along with other extractive sector organisations (UEPG for aggregates and Cembureau for cement) on a Code of Conduct for species protection in quarries. The document outlines a manageable approach for planning and permitting procedures fostering biodiversity, respecting and going beyond EU legislation. This document introduces among others the important concept of “temporary nature”.
The Code, which will be co-signed by Eurogypsum and the other organisations, will be endorsed by the European Commission. It is now in the final stages of adoption and should be launched in the spring.
The completion of the research project on the extended application of fire test results (“EXAP” project), led by our Fire Working Group and commissioned to the Belgian University of Liège, has been delayed into the first quarter of 2021, due to lockdown-related staff and work constraints in the university. A closure meeting is planned for March.
Eurogypsum in 2021
On 27 October 2020, Eurogypsum’s Board and General Assembly held videoconference meetings, reviewing our industry’s actions in this particular year and preparing the ground for 2021. The Board approved new mandates for the Working Groups in 2021-2022. Secretaries General and other member association representatives discussed in particular possible plans to celebrate Eurogypsum’s 60th anniversary in 2021. More to follow in the coming months!
15 January 2021: CHEM WG Call
2 February 2021: FIRE WG Call
23-26 February 2021: Presentation at EU Industry Days (tbc)
30 March 2021: Eurogypsum Secretary General Network meeting
4 May 2021: Eurogypsum Board and General Assembly meetings
We look forward to meeting you in person this year!