For chemicals, the EU emphasises safer plastic additives, product performance, recycling, harmonised approaches. A number of recent European Commission publications and workshops address the objective of “safe and sustainable by design” fixed by the new EU Chemicals Strategy.
A European Commission briefing on Sustainable-by-Design Plastics specifies “Plastics free from hazardous chemicals e.g. safer alternatives to current additives and coating” and refers to product performance (e.g. lightweight, strength, antimicrobial), to sustainable production and to recycling.
The European Commission (DG Research and Innovation) has also published a mapping study for defining criteria for “Sustainable-by-Design”. This addresses both finished products (articles, textiles, …) and chemicals. This concludes that hazard of substances used in products is the main driver for existing criteria (such as Ecodesign, Ecolabels), but that Sustainable-by-Design criteria should address production, use (e.g. durability, functionality) and end-of-life. It is proposed to develop a methodology and then apply this to define criteria for specific sectors or applications of chemicals in 2021-2022.
A briefing from the European Environment Agency underlines the need for an LCA approach considering health and environmental impacts of chemicals, exposure, end-of-life, but also benefits for product sustainability (e.g. chemicals which make products more durable).
At a first stakeholder workshop Kestusis Sadauskas, DG Environment, underlined that “Safe and Sustainable by Design” is the structuring backbone of the new EU Chemicals Strategy, driving innovation, and will require a clear definition of what this means. DG RTD outlined the Commissions plans for developing criteria: starting with a framework, then definition of criteria and a community of experts and stakeholders. Two first priority materials have been already identified: polymers, metal coatings. This first Commission workshop will be followed by a stakeholder survey to identify safety and sustainability dimensions to be covered and a second workshop Q4 2021.
European Commission briefing document (2 pages) on “Plastics Sustainable-by-Design” 21/9/2020 https://op.europa.eu/en/publication-detail/-/publication/e1e5fcad-fc84-11ea-b44f-01aa75ed71a1/
“Mapping study for the development of Sustainable-by-Design criteria”, European Commission DG Research & Innovation, 2021 https://ec.europa.eu/info/publications/mapping-study-development-sustainable-design-criteria_en
European Environment Agency (EEA) briefing (10 pages) 4/2/2021 “Designing safe and sustainable products requires a new approach for chemicals” https://www.eea.europa.eu/publications/designing-safe-and-sustainable-products
European Commission – Advanced Materials webpage “Sustainable-by-Design approach: towards a sustainable future” https://ec.europa.eu/info/research-and-innovation/research-area/industrial-research-and-innovation/key-enabling-technologies/advanced-materials_en#sustainable-by-design-approach-towards-a-sustainable-future
European Commission Research & Innovation Days 22/9/2020 session video (50 mins.) “Sustainability-by-Design. Embedding sustainability criteria in life cycle of products and processes” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y_NnR3A-7Ik
European Commission first stakeholder workshop 19/3/2021 “Safe and Sustainable-by-Design criteria for chemicals, materials and products” (3 ½ hours) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=alXzLtwu8WE
See also: “Recommendations and guidelines to foster sustainable design” for buildings, European Commission JRC Technical Report 2018 https://publications.jrc.ec.europa.eu/repository/handle/JRC112809
pinfa webinar: What does product sustainability mean for tomorrow’s fire safety?
Wed. 7th July 15h – 16h30 CEST: Registration https://www.eventbrite.be/e/what-does-product-sustainability-mean-for-tomorrows-fire-safety-tickets-160171803175