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Chemicals in a circular economy

All materials around us, our furniture, computer screens, and the clothes we wear, are a mixture of different chemicals. A circular economy is about material cycles – how we use, re-use and dispose of materials, how we minimise waste and how we make the most of resources in that process. Risks to humans or the environment should be avoided, so the use of hazardous chemicals in products should be reduced throughout their entire life cycle.

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The more sustainable our society becomes and the closer we move towards a circular economy, the longer the chemicals will stay in use, making it more difficult to remove those that are problematic. The EU’s chemicals legislation helps to ensure safe material cycles and make a circular economy work.

Innovating safe alternatives

The EU is taking action to promote clean material cycles and reduce the use of hazardous chemicals throughout a product's life cycle. The European chemicals legislation places obligations but also provides incentives for industry to replace hazardous substances with less hazardous ones. Producing cleaner materials without hazardous chemicals makes recycling easier, preserves our environment and is key to making a circular economy work. Companies innovating and investing in safer alternatives also contribute to the competitiveness of European industry on the global market.

Dealing with waste

The way we deal with chemicals has to be compatible with the way we deal with waste. Information on where dangerous chemicals end up is key to circularity. The EU is building a new database (SCIP) for waste operators and consumers on hazardous chemicals in the supply chain to encourage substitution of harmful substances and help consumers make safer choices. 


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