The importance to prevent toxic chemicals entering the Circular Economy

A well designed circular economy will offer main benefits for consumers, such as more durable consumer goods and novel services. But a circular economy also poses new challenges for consumer safety.

Today’s products may contain chemicals that were legal at the time they were manufactured but are now either restricted or banned, such as lead, PCBs or DecaBDE. Increased material recycling give these chemicals a second life.

For this reason, on 7 August 2017, BEUC, the Bureau Européen des Unions de Consommateurs, a leading EU consumer group, issued its response to a European Commission consultation paper launched on July 2017 on chemicals in the circular economy, pointing out that the current EU chemicals legislation is inadequately suited to facilitating a successful circular economy, while welcoming the Commission’s decision to address the interface between chemicals, products and waste legislation.

In particular, BEUC called for a precautionary approach to prevent recycling which would re-inject toxic substances into the production cycle. This means accepting that some materials and products should not be recycled.

As in a circular economy it becomes difficult to control and limit combined exposure, BEUC asked the EU to develop a more coherent approach to risk assessment and management to achieve a successful circular economy. This might include targeted strategies for all product categories where recycled materials will be used in particular for products that come into close, regular and prolonged contact with consumers.

After analyzing all feedback received from stakeholders, the European Commission will decide whether the initiative will be pursued, and on its final content.

For more information:

The EU Consultation Paper is downloadable at the following link.

The full text of the BEUC response is downloadable at the following link.

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