Chemical safety and biosafety

Cutting Costs in Chemicals Management: How OECD Helps Governments and Industry


Cutting Costs in Chemicals Management Publication. Link to detailed page, which contains a PDF link to the publication.


The chemicals industry is one of the largest industrial sectors in the world and one which poses many challenges for government regulators; inefficient regulation would have costly implications for the environment, human health, government budgets and the continued growth of this important global industry. Not only can different regulatory approaches and requirements in each OECD country create significant costs for the chemicals industry and for governments, they can also create barriers to trade. With green growth firmly on the agenda of most governments and an ongoing economic crisis to contend with, an approach which allows environmentally sustainable but cost-effective growth is essential.

For the past 30 years the OECD’s Environment, Health and Safety (EHS) Programme has been working to harmonise chemical safety tools and policies across jurisdictions. In 1998, the EHS Programme calculated that the cost savings to governments and industry from its work were around EUR 60 million a year (in 2008 currency). Ten years on, new opportunities for work sharing have brought even more benefits to governments and industry. This report demonstrates the increased savings, conservatively estimated at around EUR 153 million per year. Other significant non-monetary benefits of the programme include:

  • The avoidance of non-tariff barriers to trade, which might be created by differing test methods required among countries.
  • A reduction in the use and suffering of laboratory animals needed for toxicological tests, as fewer tests are required.
  • By establishing the same quality requirements for tests throughout OECD and adhering countries, a level playing field for the industry is ensured.
  • Given the harmonisation of the test methods and GLP, countries can also collaborate on the actual assessments of the same chemicals (based on such testing data) .
  • The MAD system is open to OECD governments and non-members who establish procedures for monitoring GLP compliance. Currently, Argentina, Brazil, India, Malaysia, South Africa and Singapore are full members of the MAD system, with the same rights and obligations as OECD members.  Thailand is a provisional adherent to the MAD system and is taking the steps necessary to become a full adherent.


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