Circular Economy in EU Chemicals Towards the Circular Economy in Chemicals: Safety ‚Non-Negotiable‘, Cefic States

Editor: Dominik Stephan

The chemical industry holds the key for the establishment of a circular economy and cradle to cradle product lifecycles, experts agree. Yet, safety is non-negotiable, stated Cefic Director by Peter Smith at the Helsinki Chemical Forum.

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(Picture: gemeinfrei / CC0 )

Helsinki/Finland – The concept of a circular economy could bring benefits such as greater resource and cost efficiency, and enhanced environmental management. Concepts like industrial symbiosis, in which plants are strategically located so waste substances from one plant can be turned into useful materials by the plant next door, already tapped into aspects of circular economy or cradle to cradle cycles, cutting waste and maximising cost and resource efficiency.

Peter Smith, Executive Director of Product Stewardship at the European Chemicals Industry Association Cefic stated that “Transitioning from a linear to a circular economy represents a challenge for industry, as we minimise the need for virgin natural resources and find clever solutions for reusing and recycling waste.”

The Most Important Prerequisites of Circular Economy

To this end, several critical steps are needed to ensure ideals expressed in the circular economy concept can be safely and effectively applied throughout the value chain.

Towards Implementing a Circular Economy

  • Recovery, recycling and reuse of resources must be managed safely for workers, consumers and the environment at every stage of the material cycle.
  • Safe management of chemicals in a circular economy requires continued compliance with existing legislation on safe use of chemicals at every stage of the cycle.
  • Recyclers and users of secondary raw materials should have the information required to safely manage and use these materials.
  • We support the EU Commission proposal in the EU circular economy action plan to analyse the interface between EU chemicals, products and waste legislation.

The EU circular economy strategy should remove unnecessary regulatory barriers to the circulation of resources and support investment in innovative technologies, while ensuring protection of human health and the environment.

New technological advances will be required for a variety of reasons, also so materials can be safely reintegrated into the manufacturing process without harm to human health or the environment. The EU should encourage such innovation as a matter of priority, Cefic officials emphasised.

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