EHS Fundamentals

What are 3 major environmental laws to watch

Zeroing in on 3 major environmental laws: What big changes to watch to keep your multi-national business on track with regulatory trends.

Only 3 major environmental laws? Of course, there are more – but these key regulations are changing the game for EHS professionals. And your facilities will need to play by their rules. Though every region (and each of its jurisdictions) differs in regulations, there are some vital developments that deserve the spotlight. Here’s a snapshot of key environmental laws and regulations to keep your eye on.

The EU Climate Law today, more major environmental laws tomorrow

Entered into force on 29 July 2021, the European Climate Law is one to watch. The Climate Law aims to set in stone the EU’s 2050 climate-neutral objective set out in the European Green Deal. (Not to mention the goal to domestic net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030 – compared to 1990 levels.) This means turning political commitment into legal obligations.

While this major environmental law doesn’t place direct requirements on companies, they could soon be impacted by more stringent measures taken by the individual Member States. As such, corporations operating in the EU face potential new or strengthened regulations calling to:

  • invest in environmentally friendly technologies
  • report progress and tracking emission reduction
  • support industries to innovate
  • ensure buildings are more energy efficient
  • improve global environmental standards

Though they might look different in each jurisdiction, we foresee these new measures coming into place in the near future. Your company will need to stay on guard for how your facilities’ Member States move forward.

Keeping watch of TSCA’s expanding scope in the US

Stay tuned for changes to the Toxic Substances and Control Act (TSCA). Like the Clean Water Act, this major environmental law has undergone a recent update. And it’s facing more from the Biden Administration.

Under TSCA, manufacturers of chemicals – or products containing them – must keep track of regulations for the associated substances. You do this by referring to the TSCA inventory. For instance, if your company works with a listed chemical, then you must follow specific requirements such as alerting the appropriate authorities before going to market.

Requirements under TSCA will exist if the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) determines that certain processes will present an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment. These include manufacturing, processing, distribution in commerce, use, and disposal.

Now with EPA’s more comprehensive review of all usage conditions for chemicals, there will likely be stricter regulations on them. As a result, we could soon see more chemicals fall within TSCA’s scope.

Waste management in China: Major changes to a major environmental law

A great deal of attention has been on China’s strengthening of regulations around Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) emissions, but it’s also making headway in an EHS area closer to the ground. The Solid Waste Pollution Prevention and Control Law (Solid Waste Law) is foundation of solid waste management in China. Since 1995, this law has dominated its circular economy policy on reasonable use, recycling, and clean production. Now it’s getting even stronger.

In the past decade, China drastically changed its solid waste policy to reduce environmental pollution. Regulations now ban solid waste import from around the globe. Additionally, the Chinese authority tightened up loopholes in the regulatory regime. The 2020 amendment to its major environmental law strengthens companies’ responsibility by introducing the extended producer responsibilities scheme for electrical and electronic products, their components, and single-use plastics. It also turns the spotlight on the management and disposal of hazardous waste, including medical waste, pharmaceutical waste, organic waste solvents, and waste mineral oil.

Major environmental laws and your multi-national business

Around the world, multi-national companies share the obligation towards a better, brighter, and cleaner future for our community. And regulations continue to evolve to help us reach that end. While these 3 major environmental laws should be on your regulatory radar, they’re not the only ones.

Use this starter list as a pulse check on where regulations are heading for your facilities. Then complete your outlook with all laws for air, water, chemicals, waste, and hazardous substances within each of your operating jurisdictions. Make sure to factor in international laws, such as EU Directives, that apply across borders. Using this starter list as a pulse check on future obligations and where regulations are heading for your facilities, you can start to see how your company can enable a climate-neutral future.

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