PRIO – A tool for Risk Reduction of Chemicals

Recycling companies

Those who work in the recycling branch have an important role in drawing attention to and working for the prevention of hazardous chemical substances being returned into the product cycle. PRIO can be a support for your work.

PRIO provides information about:

  • Hazardous environmental and health properties in the example substances held in the database.
  • Examples of hazardous substances that may be used in different product groups and that are covered by the tool's criteria.
  • When you come across a material and know which substance groups are included in it, you can search for these substance groups, e.g. softeners for plastic, and obtain more information about the properties of the substances.
  • The health and environmental properties that are to be prioritised in the new EU legislation for the chemicals area and in national political strategy.

So that recycling will function properly and can be expanded, there must be knowledge about components and materials to be recycled, and whether hazardous substances may be present. Unfortunately there are few information systems that follow the life cycles of articles and are therefore useable by the recycling industry. Such information systems are a condition for waste flows to be dealt with in the right way, and that it would be possible to have a quality-assured recycling system. This kind of information is being increasingly demanded from several directions, and is thereby becoming more common. Since economics is the most important driving force, there must be incentives to create increased quantities of high quality. Producer responsibility can be one reason to take recycling into account early on during the development and design of new products (Design for Recycling). Recycling companies can apply pressure by pointing at the problems when various material and products are dealt with. In this way, recycling companies can provide feedback to product developers.

In the PRIO tool there is information concerning which hazardous substances can be used in particular areas. The information was obtained from the Swedish Chemicals Agency's product register, and is not totally complete, but can give an indication of what should be looked out for within certain substance groups and product types.

Hazardous substances that require special attention are those which according to the PRIO tool are substances that are to be phased out and those which qualify for prioritised risk reduction respectively. Substances to be phased out have such hazardous properties that they must not be present in the general product recycling loop. The role of recycling companies has here become that of drawing attention to problematical waste flows that contain such substances.

There can be chemical risks in the work environment and in the surrounding environment of recycling companies. The PRIO tool can provide information about substance properties and be of help when it comes to designing a safe working environment for those who work in recycling companies, and also to prevent hazardous substances from spreading into the environment.