Non-toxic from the start
Products that contain chemicals that are hazardous to our health and the environment may be unsuitable to recycle and reuse. To reduce waste and the impact on global climate by consumption, goods need to be designed for a circular economy right from the start.
The Swedish Chemicals Agency has been commissioned by the Government of Sweden to strengthen our work for a non-toxic circular economy in Sweden, within the EU and globally during 2021–2022. In our assignment "Non-toxic from the start" we are working to phase out particularly hazardous substances and to reduce risks with other hazardous substances. We are also working with non-toxic design and production, development of enforcement and information and guidance.
Phase-out and risk reduction
We are working to phase out particularly hazardous substances through new initiatives within the EU and globally. Our focus is primarily on chemicals that are widely distributed in society and the environment.
One of the efforts is working for a restriction on all PFAS chemicals in the EU, for all use that is not necessary for society. We are doing this together with authorities in four other EU countries. We are also working for restrictions on several particularly hazardous substances on a global level, including the PFAS substance PFHxS. PFAS is a group of approximately 4 700 synthetically produced substances that are very difficult to degrade. Some PFASs may harm humans and the environment.
We are also involved in designing criteria for identifying endocrine disruptors, including to make it possible to phase out such substances in consumer products. We cooperate with other EU member states on information requirements for the registration of endocrine disruptors in accordance with the REACH regulation.
We are working to reduce the risks with other hazardous substances. At EU level, we are working to introduce an assessment factor that can be used in risk assessment of mixtures of chemical substances to take combination effects into account. We are also working for increased information requirements for the large number of chemical substances that are currently used in low volumes, in order to reduce risks already before substances are used more widely.
Non-toxic design and production
We are working to promote that goods and materials are non-toxic from the start, ie already at the design and production stage. We make efforts that will contribute to non-toxic cycles by covering several steps in the cycle: the development stage in a production, the purchase of goods and materials and the reuse and recycling stage. This work involves using patent data to identify chemical risks, chemical requirements in public procurement and making it easier for companies to use information from the EUs SCIP database External link..
Knowledge of chemical rules and regulations is an important prerequisite for companies to be able to work to ensure that goods and materials are non-toxic from the start. We are working to clarify the regulations, especially for small and medium-sized companies.
Development of enforcement
We are developing methods for enforcement of substances in articles and chemical products, especially aiming to become better at handling challenges that are a result of increased e-commerce. This work includes efforts to strengthen our cooperation with the Swedish Customs and with authorities in other EU member states.
Information and guidance
We are working to strengthen information and guidance regarding the use of recycled raw materials. The efforts are contributing to a non-toxic circular economy and are promoting the use of recycled materials.
Our guidance will be aimed at companies that use or want to use recycled raw materials and at companies that produce recycled raw materials from waste. We are also working to clarify the demarcation and improve coordination between chemicals and waste legislation.
In this part of the assignment, we collaborate with the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency.
Investigation of obstacles to recycling plastic
We are investigating which substances that are obstacles or are problematic when it comes to recycling of plastics, foamed plastics and plastic-like materials. The investigation is to be reported to the Government by 1 November 2023.