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Sweden: Ban on Mercury

(Feb. 23, 2009) On January 15, 2009, the Swedish government introduced a blanket ban on mercury. Regulations governing the ban enter into force on June 1, 2009. As a result, such practices as the use of dental amalgam in fillings will be prohibited and products containing the non-degradable element may not marketed domestically. However, the Swedish Chemicals Agency will have the authority “to issue regulations on exceptions or grant exemptions in individual cases.” (Press Release, Ministry of the Environment, Government Bans All Use of Mercury in Sweden (Jan. 15, 2009), available at Sweden prohibited the manufacture and sale of some products that contain mercury such as thermometers, other measuring devices, and electronic components, since the beginning of the 1990s.

According to Minister for the Environment Andreas Carlgren, Sweden leads the way in the removal of and protection of the environment from mercury. “The ban is a strong signal to other countries and a Swedish contribution to EU and UN aims to reduce mercury use and emissions,” he added. (Id.) However, because the Swedish market for hazardous waste is small, “waste containing mercury will be disposed of in deep geological repositories in other EU countries,” which, a government inquiry found, “more than adequately meet the safety requirements on which Swedish legislation is based.” (Id.) Carlgren pointed out that “[i]n accordance with the polluter pays principle, the owners of the waste will be responsible for ensuring that disposal in a repository is arranged and paying for it.” (Id.)