On February 24, 2017 the non-profit organizations ClientEarth and the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) published a new report on hazardous chemicals and the circular economy. The report, entitled “Keeping it clean: How to protect the circular economy from hazardous substances,” was produced for the EEB by Alice Bernard and Vito Buonsante of Client Earth. The authors outline how EU laws on chemicals, products, and waste interact, and highlight their complementarities as well as shortcomings with regards to achieving a circular economy. “We live on a planet with finite resources, so it is essential that our laws pull together to ensure the EU can reuse, recycle and repurpose materials free from dangerous chemicals wherever possible,” Bernard explained. The report highlights that with the current legal framework “information about dangerous chemicals in products is lost during their lifecycle.” This makes it more difficult and costly for companies to comply with legal requirements for the protection of human health and the environment when using recycled and recovered materials than when using virgin materials.
To adapt the current legal framework to the challenges of a circular economy, the authors recommend the following to policy makers: 1) Limit hazardous chemicals from entering the material cycle, 2) ensure that economic operators have access to sufficient information on hazardous chemicals in products and materials recovered from waste, and 3) ensure that the legal framework is equally protective of human health and the environment when products are made of recovered materials.
Client Earth (February 24, 2017). “Laws must work together so the EU can reuse, recycle and repurpose.”
Chemical Watch (February 27, 2017). “NGOs warn of ‘infinite’ exposure to hazardous chemicals in circular economy.”
ChemSec (March 1, 2017). “New report on Circular Economy.”
Alice Bernard (April 19, 2017). “NGO platform: Protecting the circular economy from hazardous substances.” Chemical Watch
ClientEarth and EEB (February 2017). “Keeping it clean: How to protect the circular economy from hazardous substances.” (pdf)