A group of experts has developed and submitted a report to the European Commission (EC) advocating for and outlining how projects focusing on the concept of ‘safe-by-design’ can be included in the upcoming Horizon Europe research program. An article published by regulatory news provider Chemical Watch describes the report as being submitted by an informal working group of experts from the Dutch government, European Chemicals Agency, European Environment Agency, academia, and industry. It outlines three aspects central to expanding the safe-by-design concept: (i) developing and improving  methodologies for design of chemicals and materials considering toxicity and other life cycle aspects, (ii) using thematic research, development, and innovation to overcome challenges where safer alternatives have been difficult to find, and (iii) creating an environment that enables the concept through knowledge exchange, education, and supply chain cooperation.

“The safe-by-design approach begins with toxicity but is also important for the circular economy because materials without hazardous chemicals are easier to recycle,” Jochem van der Waals, senior policy adviser at the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, told Chemical Watch. “What we see is that chemists are often not trained in toxicology and toxicologists are not usually involved in chemical design. That’s an important area and something that should be improved.” A suggestion to improve this is to set up training classes and “bootcamps” in toxicology for university students. The report has been submitted to the EC as well as EU member states, and the authors expect a set of discussions with them over the coming months.

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Emma Davies (June 26, 2019). “Expert safe-by-design report to guide Commission.” Chemical Watch


Van der Waals, J., et. al. (June 24, 2019). “Safe-by-design for materials and chemicals.”