GMTS is a globally harmonized standard for disclosing information on the presence of intentionally added hazardous chemicals within and outside the supply chains. The word “minimum” in the acronym signifies that companies can, and should be encouraged, to disclose information about additional chemicals, not required by the standard, or apply a stricter disclosure concentration threshold.
A long-term aspirational goal should be full ingredient disclosure for all intentionally added chemicals in materials/products, but it is important to start with something more tangible that will ensure better protection of human health and environment from already prioritised chemicals of concern.
Products are recognized as a one of sources of chemicals hazardous to health and the environment. In a globalised economy, supply chains can be complex and multinational. Materials/components for a product may come from several jurisdictions, each with its own regulations, requirements and levels of compliance. Add to this the companies’ claims for confidential business information. As a result, tracing the chemical composition of the final product becomes a costly and complex task.
This situation is also a major impediment to moving towards a more circular economy on a global scale, which would use natural resources more sustainably and minimizing the extraction of primary raw materials. Countries need to reuse and recycle more materials, and the key to making this safe for human health and the environment is to be transparent about the chemical composition of a product at all stages of its life cycle, from design, use, reuse or recycling to the disposal of final waste. Due to the globalisation of the economy and the fact that many supply chains are multinational, no one country can solve the problems described alone. We need to cooperate by harmonising the way we disclose and share information.
So where do we start? We start by disclosing information for chemicals that are already recognized globally, or regionally, to be chemicals of concern. This should be non-controversial to companies. According to the Dubai Declaration, in disclosing information, “information on chemicals relating to the health and safety of humans and the environment should not be regarded as confidential”.
For the disclosure to be harmonized and effective across all countries, the GMTS should ideally be binding from the beginning. This ensures that no one is left behind, in line with one of the core principles of the Agenda 2030. It should be investigated if any of the existing multi-lateral agreements on chemicals or waste can host such a binding standard, or we may have to create a new instrument.