Increased use of virgin materials and low recycling levels show that a circular economy is far from being realised. The presence of chemicals of concern in materials is an important reason for this. Mechanical recycling will remain the main recycling technology for the foreseeable future, which makes establish ing nontoxic waste streams the key to scaling up the circular economy.
Hazardous chemicals are a direct threat to human health and the environment and can therefore never be identified as safe and sustainable. The safe and sustainable by design criteria should be ambitious and comprehensive. However, in order to introduce the criteria as soon and efficiently as possible, the most important parameters should be included first.
In which products and processes can we accept the use of toxic substances? This is a burning hot question in the chemicals policy debate. The Chemical Strategy acknowledges the urgency to speed up the phaseout of hazardous chemicals, and one important step in that direction is to allow the most harmful chemicals only for “essential use”.
Numerous reports have highlighted the importance of tackling the problem of hazardous chemicals and stressed the fact that it is an urgent matter. As part of the European Green Deal, the EU Commission will present a Chemical Strategy for Sustainability. Here are five important aspects that need to be included in the strategy.