Global production of chemicals is growing rapidly, supporting the green and digital transitions, but also creating risks to health and ecosystems. According to a report by the European Environment Agency (EEA), The main policy measures of the European Commission’s chemical sustainability strategy offer significant potential to ensure consumer safety, reduce pollution and clean up material flows.
Chemicals play a key role in all economic sectors in Europe and the world, such as agriculture, energy, healthcare and manufacturing. Almost all consumer goods contain chemicals to improve product functionality. At the same time, evidence suggests that chemical contamination exceeded safety limits worldwide . Our widespread use and release of chemicals means that, today, the bodies of European citizens are contaminated with a huge number of chemicals, some at unhealthy levels. Europeans are also concerned about the negative effects of chemicals on health and the environment.
According to the EEA report “Managing the Systemic Use of Chemicals in Europe”, the increasing production and consumption of chemicals creates challenges on a global scale, ranging from negative impacts on people’s health and the pollution of our environment to the reinforcement of our dependence on fossil fuels It is contributing to emissions of greenhouse gases. Evidence suggests that we have now exceeded the planetary threshold for chemical pollution. Chemicals in products also pose a barrier to reuse or recycling, hindering resource efficiency and the transition to a circular economy.
The EEA report highlights the importance of carrying out key actions, set out in the European Commission’s chemical strategy for sustainability, to ensure safe products for citizens, maintain the clean and healthy ecosystems and support the transition to a circular economy. These include:
- Promote chemicals that are safe and sustainable by design leveraging the innovative capacity of the chemical industry to provide non-toxic, low-carbon and round-the-clock technologies, materials and products.
- Elimination gradual use of harmful substances that are not essential . Harmful chemicals should only be used when necessary for health, safety or critical to the functioning of society and there are no acceptable alternatives.
- manage the chemical hazards in groupsinstead of one by one, to accelerate the protection of citizens and the environment.
The European Commission’s Chemical Strategy for Sustainability forms part of the European Green Deal and aims to better protect citizens and the environment and drive innovation in safe and sustainable chemicals in Europe.