The Swedish Chemicals Agency's long-term work has brought Sweden closer to a non-toxic everyday environment
Thanks to the action plan for a non-toxic everyday environment, Sweden is one of the most active countries in the EU when it comes to proposing measures against environmentally harmful substances. Within the action plan, the Swedish Chemicals Agency has also strived to regulate substances groupwise, and today proposals for regulating thousands of substances are on the table. The European Commission's "Chemical Strategy for Sustainability towards a Non-Toxic Environment" contains clear elements of Swedish ambitions. This is indicated by the final report on the assignment submitted by the Swedish Chemicals Agency to the Government.
– We have achieved significant success in our work on the action plan for a non-toxic everyday environment, improving the protection of health and the environment. I am proud of the results and the impact of this long-term initiative. At the same time, much work remains to be done, especially helping to implement the measures in the EU’s new chemicals strategy, says Per Ängquist, Director General of the Swedish Chemicals Agency.
The Swedish Chemicals Agency's work on the action plan for a non-toxic everyday environment has been ongoing for a decade. In 2010, the Government commissioned the Swedish Chemicals Agency to develop and implement an action plan for a non-toxic everyday environment. The first programming period ran from 2011 to 2014. The mandate has since been extended twice during the periods 2015-2017 and 2018-2020.
Some overall results after a decade of the action plan for a non-toxic everyday environment include:
- Sweden is among the countries in the EU that have produced the most numerous proposals for bans and other regulations on hazardous chemicals compared to other countries in the EU – even compared to countries with larger populations. Through the Swedish Chemicals Agency's contribution, the EU’s chemicals regulations have over the years increased the protection of health and the environment.
- The work and views of the Swedish Chemicals Agency are reflected in the chemicals strategy presented by the European Commission in October 2020.
- The Swedish Chemicals Agency has worked to ensure that EU rules include restrictions on whole groups of substances. Today there is a proposal on the EU table to ban more than 1,000 allergens in clothing and footwear, and work is underway in relation to at least 4,700 PFAS substances.
- Since 2011, the Swedish Chemicals Agency has analysed more than 6,200 products, such as toys, jewellery and electronics. As a result, stores in Sweden have removed goods containing hazardous substances from the shelves, and Sweden has become a key player in the European supervisory partnership.
- More hazardous substances have been phased out or restricted at a global level. One example is mercury, which is now limited throughout its life cycle since the Minamata Convention entered into force in 2017, leading to global phasing-out.
Sustainable work at EU level
The Swedish Chemicals Agency has also worked actively for a long time to ensure that a strategy for a non-toxic environment is developed at EU level. In October 2020, the European Commission published its "Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability Towards a toxic-free environment". The strategy includes initiatives that are well in line with the Swedish environmental quality goal A Non-Toxic Environment and focuses on issues that have been pursued by the Swedish Chemicals Agency and Sweden for a long time. These include measures relating to endocrine disrupting substances, the control of hazardous substances in goods and in particular in goods imported into the EU, combination effects and persistent chemicals such as PFAS.
The Swedish Chemicals Agency has actively contributed to the development of several important areas of EU chemicals control. These include improved protection against exposure to endocrine disrupting substances and taking into consideration combination effects in risk assessments. The Swedish Chemicals Agency has also, together with other Member States, developed a proposal for an EU PFAS strategy.
Concrete results both on the international and national arenas
The Swedish Chemicals Agency has worked both internationally and nationally within the framework of the action plan for a non-toxic everyday environment. In its international work, the Swedish Chemicals Agency has, among others, contributed to the development of the Stockholm Convention. During 2018-2020, the Agency contributed to the work on a decision to globally phase-out the highly fluorinated substance PFOA. Another important decision was the drastic reduction of the number of exemptions from existing bans on PFOS.
In Sweden, the Swedish Chemicals Agency further developed the Priority Guide PRIO, which was relaunched in October 2020. During its continued cooperation with the foundation Keep Sweden Clean, four films have been produced and new teaching materials for both upper secondary school and preschool have been developed.
– Through the action plan for a non-toxic everyday environment, we have been able to take initiatives that create long-term positive effects for both human health and the environment. The positive effects will remain long after the end of the programme period, says Amelie Pedersen, Project Manager for the final report on the Government assignment at the Swedish Chemicals Agency.
For more information, please contact:
Amelie Pedersen, Project Manager for the final report on the Government assignment, +46 8 519 41 244
Swedish Chemicals Agency's press office, +46 8 519 41 200, firstname.lastname@example.org
E-mail addresses for Agency employees are written as follows: email@example.com