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EU planning green revolution for the chemicals industry


Brussels – The chemicals industry should contribute to ensuring that the environment is free from hazardous substances, according to the European Commission. It should be aiming to reclaim its international competitive ability by promoting the use of safe and sustainable chemicals. Brussels is seeking to maintain pollutant-free material lifecycles.

In 2018, the chemicals industry of the European Union (EU) boasted a global market share of just under 17 percent. This share has therefore fallen by around half within the space of two decades. While the EU is currently still the second-largest manufacturer, it is likely to slip down to third place by 2030, the European Commission writes in its communication in relation to its new chemicals strategy. From the perspective of the European Commission, the European chemical industry should seek to reclaim its competitive ability with the use of safe and sustainable chemicals.

The European Commission is of the view that the chemicals industry should form part of a clean circular economy. To achieve this, care would have to be taken to ensure that both primary and secondary raw materials are safe and compatible with the circular economy at all times. The aims here are to maintain material lifecycles that are free from hazardous substances and clean recycling. Recycled materials from the EU should become the global benchmark for clean chemicals. Both regulatory measures and innovative technologies should contribute to this. Among other aspects, these should be used to combat old pollutants in waste streams, while innovative business models should become the driving force behind a green revolution in the chemicals industry. The European Commission classifies the use of chemicals as a service.

In preparation for its chemicals strategy for sustainability, the European Commission widely consulted various stakeholders within the chemicals industry. In this regard, it held a conference on the circular economy in Brussels in 2018, where Albin Kälin, founder and CEO of EPEA Switzerland, had the opportunity to present the Cradle to Cradle concept and discuss the traceability of safe substances in closed-loop biological and technological lifecycles.

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