Chemicals bring the desired qualities to products
Finland specialises in highly processed printing and writing papers and mineral agents can account for over half of the weight of coated fine paper, for example. Approximately 2.5 million tonnes of coating agents and fillers are used in Finland each year. The chemicals used in pulp production are collected and they are recycled in various processes. Chlorine used for bleaching has been replaced by bleaching agents that are less harmful to the environment, such as chlorine dioxide, as well as oxygen-based chemicals, such as hydrogen peroxide and ozone.
The EU’s REACH chemicals regulation’s scope of application does not extend to natural substances such as the minerals and pulp important to the forest industry. For the forest industry, it is important that the REACH regulations are not applied to mechanical pulp, cellulose or minerals. Every year, the forest industry uses over one billion euros worth of substances classified as chemicals. About 75% of these are harmless natural substances such as kaolin, calcium carbonate and talc.
REACH applies to the forest industry mostly as a downstream user of chemicals
As a downstream user of chemicals, the forest industry has a share in the responsibility to obtain information about chemical exposure. The forest industry is not only a user of chemicals, it can also manufacture chemicals. Substances that are produced by the forest industry and that are within the scope of REACH are, for example, some bleaching agents as well as by-products delivered to the market such as tall oil and turpentine.
REACH applies to the substances as such as well as substances in preparations and in objects. The forest industry endorses the objectives of the REACH regulations in terms of improved health and environmental awareness, but also because it aims to replace harmful substances with harmless ones. It is, however, important that the system is developed in such a way that it is reasonable in terms of costs and functional in practice.