Denmark to clamp down on chemical-containing toys

The government is to introduce new legislation against toy products that contain harmful chemicals.

Denmark to clamp down on chemical-containing toys
A number of 'squishies' were withdrawn from the market in Denmark earlier this year. Photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

Minister for the Environment and Food Jakob Ellemann-Jensen and Business Minister Rasmus Jarlov are to beef up legal framework against companies and suppliers who sell dangerous toys.

Rule changes will mean that complaints can be pursued whenever toys containing hazardous substances are sold, regardless of whether the seller was aware of the issue at the time of sale.

Currently, prosecution is only possible when sellers willingly sell unsafe toys.

“In future it will also be possible to punish companies that are slack with safety,” Ellemann-Jensen said via a press statement.

“As such, companies will be increasingly responsible for what they sell,” the minister added.

Jarlov said he expected retailers and importers of toy products to improve practice as tighter rules are introduced.

“I think this will make companies, that perhaps weren't as thorough before, think a little more about the rules,” he said.

The government measure comes after reports earlier this year of the withdrawal from the market of certain products of squishies, a soft toy made from foam. The toys were found to contain potentially harmful chemicals.

The Ecological Council (Det Økonomiske Råd), an independent environmental organisation, welcomed the move but added that labelling on products was the best way to promote safety.

“The bulk of the responsibility is on producers and this would help the stores that sell toys,” the organisation’s senior advisor Lone Mikkelsen said.

“That would give customers the option of choosing for themselves not to buy, for example, hormone-disrupting chemicals that are not yet forbidden in toys,” Mikkelsen added.

READ ALSO: Denmark pressures EU on everyday chemicals


Sweden Democrats threaten government crisis over biofuels obligation

The far-right Sweden Democrats are threatening to push Sweden's three-party ruling coalition into a political crisis as they fail to reach agreement over how drastically to cut the country's biofuels obligation, a key part in its plan to reduce emissions.

Sweden Democrats threaten government crisis over biofuels obligation

The party is claiming that a pledge in the Tidö Agreement calling for the biofuels obligation, or reduktionsplikt, to be cut to the “lowest EU level”, should mean that the amount of biofuels that must be blended into petrol and diesel and Sweden should be cut to close to zero, rather than to about half the current share, as suggested by ongoing EU negotiations. 

“We are being tough in the negotiations because of the power we have as the biggest party in this bloc,” Oscar Sjöstedt, the party’s finance spokesperson told TV4. “There is going to be a change at the end of the year that is going to be pretty significant and substantial, that I’m 99.9 percent certain about, otherwise we will have a government crisis.” 

The Liberal Party is pushing for a much less severe reduction, perhaps to a little more than half the current level, where 30.5 percent of all petrol and diesel must be biofuel. 

“We have signed up to a temporary reduction in the biofuels obligation, and it’s clear that that is what we are going to do, but zero is not an alternative for us,” the Liberal Party’s leader Johan Pehrson told TV4.

The decision to reduce the amount of biofuel in the mix at Swedish pumps has made it much more difficult for Sweden to meet its targets for emissions reductions, putting pressure on Pehrson’s colleague, Environment Minister Romina Pourmokhtari. 

Next Wednesday, Pourmokhtari will have to defend the extent to which her government’s policies have pushed Sweden away from being able to meet its 2045 target of net zero emissions when the The Swedish Climate Policy Council reports on the country’s progress towards its target.