The imposition of a 'chemical tax' on clothing and footwear would not only reduce the use of hazardous substances but also drive innovation in chemicals research, according to a new report.

The research by the Swedish Chemicals Agency (Kemi) is published in a report on “What would a chemical tax on consumer goods look like?" - using clothing and footwear as an example.

It suggests a tax on chemicals in apparel and footwear is necessary due to increasing numbers of products containing chemicals that are hazardous for both the environment and health.

Proposals include grouping together products containing one or more chemicals from a list including phthalates, allergenic or carcinogenic dyestuffs and antibacterial agents.

Taxation would be aimed at both imported and domestically produced consumer products on the Swedish market, and would be levied per kilogram or be based on the amount of hazardous taxation substance.

The tax levels would need to be set high enough to have a controlling effect, according to the report, which also estimates the resultant average price increase for clothing and shoes would be 0.3%.

It is estimated that annual purchases of clothing and shoes that contain certain groups of hazardous substances could be reduced by 60%.

The tax is expected to result in administrative costs for companies of around SEK30m (US$4.7m), and lead to a 0.3% reduction in sales of clothing and shoes.

"A chemical tax does not stand in opposition to a future EU restriction but may, on the contrary, facilitate the introduction of such a tax by driving forward innovation and substitution," the report says.