Substituting hazardous chemicals

Companies use chemical substances to fulfil a technical function for the manufacture or use of their products. Sometimes, the nature of these substances means that they are hazardous to human health and the environment. Increasing awareness among producers and consumers, combined with increasing regulation, means that entire industries are seeking safer alternatives.

What are the benefits of substitution?

The obvious benefit of using safer alternatives is that hazardous chemicals are removed from the supply chain. If hazardous chemicals are no longer manufactured, transported or used they will pose no risk to human health and the environment. There is also an often overlooked economic benefit whereby the use of safer alternatives allows reduced risk management measures and their associated costs. However, substitution often requires detailed planning and an up-front investment in order to avoid instances of regrettable substitution.

TSG Consulting can help

TSG’s consultants have experience of supporting the substitution of hazardous chemicals within high-tech industries where the demands of alternatives chemistries can be rigorous. As part of the Science Group, TSG can also call on the expertise of a team of scientists and engineers to provide technical support.

TSG can help with:

  • Business case development
  • Creating and implementing substitution strategies
  • Understanding technical requirements
  • Development, testing and implementing alternatives
  • Working with industry partners

Business case development

For many organizations, delivering product to the customer is the number one priority and it can be difficult to be proactive and undertake substitution ahead of regulatory requirements and before issues start to impact on business operations. Taking the time to develop a strong business case can often be the first step to getting ahead of potential future issues.

TSG can help you undertake a risk benefit analysis and develop a robust business case that could be used to support the creation of a substitution project.

Creating and implementing substitution strategies

All change creates risk, and substitution is no different. In order to manage risk to an acceptable level, a robust strategy is required to address all eventualities. Some aspects to consider include: scope, cost, funding, policy development, skills’ gaps, third party support, risk management, and change control.

TSG can help with all aspects of strategy development using their consultant’s previous experience.

Understanding technical requirements

As an example, hex chrome has been used for decades in many industries for corrosion protection of light alloys. Light alloys are particularly important to the aerospace and defence industry where corrosion can impact on product safety and efficacy. The REACH regulation has encouraged industry to look at alternative chemistries and in order to do so effectively it is crucial to define the technical performance requirements of the hazardous chemistry. This has led to industry research and a better understanding of how hex chrome can inhibit corrosion.

Being part of the Science Group, TSG can call on its team of scientists and engineers to analyse and define the technical function of the hazardous chemistry. This can be a crucial step in substitution.

Development, testing and implementing alternatives

Alternatives to hazardous chemistry may be other chemistries or even a technological solution. For example, nearly 15% of substitutions of hazardous chemistry triggered by REACH regulation were to a new technology rather than a different chemistry. This phase in a substitution program can be one of the longest and most complex.

TSG can help to plan and manage substitution projects including alternatives’ development, testing and industrialization.

Working with industry partners

Chemical substances used for manufacturing processes may be common across some industries so there could be an opportunity to work with your competitors to find a common alternative. This is particularly helpful when you use the same suppliers. Many industries have created trade associations and working groups to assist in this collaboration under robust legal and technical frameworks.

TSG’s consultants have worked to create industry groups to allow competitors to work on substitution projects without violating anti-trust laws. We also have extensive experience in managing other types of technical consortia.


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