Together with plant protection products, biocides belong to pesticides. Both share similarities – e.g. active substances, application methods – but also differences: Other than plant protection products, biocides are used in divers settings to protect humans or materials from harmful organisms, not only indoors, but also directly in nature. This makes their sustainable use important to reduce their environmental risks.
A general need to reduce the use of biocides to the minimum necessary is already acknowledged in the EU Biocidal Products Regulation 528/2012. This is an important aspect how biocides can contribute best to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. However, the detailed legal implementation to support a sustainable use of biocides is still missing even though the instrument is already there: Directive 2009/128/EC on the Sustainable Use of Pesticides already covering many aspects also relevant for biocides. It only applies to plant protection products at the moment but European Parliament already in 2007 urged the EU Commission to include biocides in the later Directive 2009/128/EC. This was not considered at that time but the planned extension of the Directive to biocides at a later stage is foreseen in its second recital. Just recently, the European Council in its council conclusions “Sustainable Chemicals Strategy of the Union: Time to Deliver” in March 2021 underlined the need for a sustainable use of biocides.
The partner event on 03.06.2021 with more than 100 participants mainly from EU countries showed that member states have already started to develop national legislation to support a sustainable use of biocides to fill the existing gap in EU legislation, impeding European harmonisation. This development needs to be considered when revising the Directive 2009/128/EC in 2022. UBA asks the EU Commission to include biocides in the upcoming revision and to set regulatory provisions to optimise the contribution biocides can make for sustainability.