news | 2021-03-29
A cleaning woman is standing inside a building holding a blue bucket filled with chemicals and facilities for tidying up in her hand.

Great interest in breakfast seminar on the EU's new chemical strategy

Mistra SafeChem’s and SusChem Sweden’s joint breakfast seminar on the EU's new chemicals strategy attracted a large number of participants, who learned more about what the strategy includes and how it affects chemical companies and research in Sweden. Now you can see a recording of it.

In October 2020, the European Commission adopted The EU’s chemicals strategy for sustainability towards a toxic-free environment. The purpose of it is to stimulate innovation of safer and more sustainable chemicals and strengthen the protection of the environment and human health. But what does this mean for Sweden?

A more preventive approach

Urban Boije af Gennäs, an expert at the Swedish Chemicals Agency, emphasized that the chemicals strategy has two purposes. Chemicals must be produced and used in a way that maximizes their contribution to society while avoiding damage to current and future generations.

The chemicals strategy mentions just over 80 measures, of which 56 have a deadline. They involve support for innovation and evidence-based decision-making, simplified and strengthened regulations and identification of new danger criteria.

According to Urban Boije af Gennäs, the chemicals strategy is permeated by the desire for a more preventive approach. Instead of repairing damage, innovation in safe and sustainable chemicals should be stimulated and supported.

Rather vague incentives for research

Kristina Neimert Carne, an expert on chemical issues at the trade association IKEM, emphasized that the industry welcomes the chemicals strategy. It is particularly positive that the Commission is taking a broader approach, basing its strategy on the need for chemicals in a climate-neutral, circular and prosperous society.

But she noted that the incentives for research and development are rather vague in the chemical’s strategy. It takes at least ten years to develop a chemical, that requires clear rules of the game.

Kristina Neimert Carne hopes that Sweden will implement the chemical’s strategy in a way that enables the goals in the Green Deal to be implemented.

– If we are serious about the Green Deal, more than vague policy documents are needed for the chemical industry and the industries depending on it to get the necessary conditions.

A coherent definition for green chemicals

Richard Lihammar, programme manager at Mistra SafeChem, noted that the goal is to avoid risks with chemicals already in the design stage.

The chemicals that are banned must be replaced by others through research and development. New methods are needed, for example for hazard and risk screening and to supplement toxicology with life cycle analyses. The aim of the Mistra SafeChem programme is to develop these types of new methods, along with new and more sustainable production processes.

Mistra SafeChem also has the ambition to develop a coherent definition for green chemicals and to influence the education of future chemists.

See a recording of the seminar

The breakfast seminar EU's New Chemicals Strategy – Content and Consequences was organised by Mistra SafeChem and SusChem Sweden, a research platform for companies and researchers who want to make the industry's products and processes cleaner, more circular and to achieve better production with less impact on people and the environment.

The seminar was held on February 24, 2021, and attracted around 130 people. It was digital, held in Swedish, and recorded.