ChemSec's position on Circular economy

A circular economy free from hazardous substances

ChemSec sees great potential for Circular Economy and chemicals regulations to reinforce each other and boost recycling in a sustainable way, with safe and long-lasting products. As the essence of Circular Economy has to seep through a large number of legislative proposals and committee decisions, we believe it is important that ambition levels are kept high in all areas.

It is in the greatest interest of all advocates of the circular economy that the quality of secondary material is maintained. If not, reuse and recycling will not become an attractive option. In order to achieve a truly sustainable and safe circular economy, we must accept that not all materials can be reused or recycled, since they may contain unwanted substances that should not re-enter the market. Producers and downstream users need to be able to trust that the material they use is clean enough to keep customers safe and their brand reputations unharmed. This calls for traceability and making sure that hazardous substances are not diluted into materials of higher quality. The success of Circular Economy is therefore dependent on virgin and recycled materials that are free from hazardous substances.

Key points for a circular economy

  • For a clean and successful circular economy, hazardous substances must be phased out in both virgin and recycled material.
  • Producers and downstream users must be able to detect the content of reused and recycled material to ensure that it is free from unwanted chemicals. If not, they cannot use it.
  • Pollution by dilution will diminish the value of recycled material, and the contamination of cleaner material should not be accepted.
  • Reused and recycled material will be used in long-lasting new products that will still be in use when stricter chemicals regulations are in place. Extra caution should therefore be taken to prevent the inclusion of hazardous substances in the circular economy.