For more than 40 years, the OECD Environment, Health and Safety (EHS) Programme has been dedicated to helping governments develop and implement high-quality chemicals management policies and instruments to promote chemical safety worldwide. OECD countries now have science-based, rigorous and comprehensive systems for assessing and managing the risks of chemicals. But implementation of such regulatory systems can be time-consuming and expensive, which is why OECD countries work together to combine their skills and knowledge, avoid duplication of testing, minimise non-tariff distortions to trade, and ultimately be more efficient and effective in managing chemicals.

This report is the third in a series of reports that have quantified the financial benefits that accrue to governments and industry from the work of the EHS Programme. The first report, Savings to governments and industry resulting from the OECD Environment, Health and Safety Programme, was published in 1998 and estimated that the cost savings to industry and governments was approximately EUR 90 million a year (all monetary figures in this report have been adjusted for inflation). The second report, Cutting Costs in Chemicals Management: How OECD Helps Governments and Industry, was published in 2010 and estimated that the savings had grown to EUR 177 million per year.

This report explores a larger part of the work of the EHS Programme than the previous reports did, and details the significant savings it has secured for both governments and industry – more than EUR 309 million a year. These quantifiable savings only tell part of the story; the report also describes the programme’s equally important non-quantifiable benefits (e.g. harmonising biotechnology safety assessments as a direct result of EHS work). Further, the estimated savings are just a snapshot of the benefits that accrue today, and this figure is expected to rise as the results of more EHS projects become available in the coming years.

This document was approved and published under the responsibility of the Joint Meeting of the Chemicals Committee and the Working Party on Chemicals, Pesticides and Biotechnology”.

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