In an article published on October 5, 2017, regulatory news provider Chemical Watch informed that the European Parliament (EP) issued a briefing document on chemicals in the circular economy, with a special focus on substances of concern. A report on the “Analysis of the interface between chemicals, products and waste legislation and identification of policy options” is expected to be published by the European Commission by the end of 2017.
EP’s briefing document provides background information on the circular economy and highlights the question of substances of concern in material cycles, aiming at the development of a Union strategy for a non-toxic environment. EU legislation on chemicals, products (including food contact materials (FCMs)), and waste were related to substances of concern in material cycles. The presence of substances of concern in products, often resulting in long-term and combined exposures, was identified as problematic. The lack of knowledge about properties and uses of chemicals of concern as well as their potential presence in waste streams added to the list of challenges. Furthermore, the need for high recycling rates which are essential for a circular economy requires material input fulfilling the quantitative and qualitative recycling criteria.
Remedies could include ensuring the communication about the presence of substances of concern in products, reducing and substituting substances of concern in products, and improving the management of substances of concern that cannot be substituted. While the EP clearly calls for substitution of substances of very high concern (SVHCs) under REACH, trade associations promote risk-based instead of hazard-based approaches.
Chemical Watch (October 5, 2017). “EU Parliament issues briefing on chemicals and the circular economy.”
European Parliament (October 2017). “Chemicals and the circular economy: Dealing with substances of concern.” (pdf)
Chemical Watch (October 13, 2017). “EU Council calls on UNEA to increase hazardous chemicals knowledge.“