International seminar – reduction of hazardous substances from urban sources [Turku/Finland, May 2017]

On 30 and 31 May 2017 the international seminar Reduction of hazardous substances from urban sources – Strategies, tools and incentives municipalities can implement took place in Turku (Finland). Invited were representatives from municipalities of the Baltic Sea region to discuss different ways and tools to reduce chemical loading in urban areas. The meeting was moderated by Heidrun Fammler as a representative of the Interreg project NonHazCity[1]. NonHazCity partners want to develop chemicals actions plans or, if already available, improve them. These are long-term strategy papers which should coordinate all municipal activities relating to hazardous substances. As the representative of the Vienna City Administration I contributed three presentations concerning the ecological procurement programme “ÖkoKauf Wien”[2] generally and more particularly the product application disinfection and cleaning[3].


procuraThe question, if and how procurement practices of municipalities can be used to reduce or avoid the application of hazardous substances of course played an important role at the meeting. In respect to the implementation of sustainable procurement practices John Watt from ICLEI provided valuable information in his presentation: Inter alia he confirmed that there is no need to reinvent the wheel. Instead appropriate instruction materials are available for instance the Procura+ Manual or the “Buying Green” handbook from the European Commission which thereby wants to promote the dissemination of green public procurement.

green-salonConcerning the presentations addressing the business sector I want to pick out the presentation from Johan Galster (Green Salon Scandinavia)[4]: It appears to me that his concept Green Salon offers a workable approach for a long standing and equally neglected dilemma – the content of harmful substances in cosmetics applied in hairdressing salons. An important requirement within this concept is the takeover of a positive respectively negative (ban) list with products. Banned chemicals inter alia are (components of) hair colours or preservatives. They are not allowed in products used in the salon. The negative list forms a crucial element of the certification scheme. Actually certified hairdressing salons are limited to Scandinavia[5],[6]. The potential however appears to be high considering 400.000 hairdressing salons with 1 million employees alone in Europe.