Better information on hazardous substances is required if recycling is to increase

2020-11-25

PRESS RELEASE published on 25 November 2020 by  IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute

In order to be able to recycle material, better content information is needed. This applies especially to hazardous substances. EU chemicals legislation is not enough. In order to create a resource-efficient and non-toxic cycle, the knowledge of hazardous substances must be improved, according to a project that IVL has led within the innovation program Resource.

-“There is a growing demand from industry to use more recycled raw materials in their production, but the uncertainty about the material’s content and quality becomes a stumbling block,” says Dämien Bolinius, project manager at IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute

In order to increase recycling, a functioning market for recycled material is required. Furthermore, hazardous substances must be identified and removed. Especially, since the recycled material needs to be able to compete with new materials.

– “Right now recycled plastics are for example is in great demand. But, how should we/are we going to analyse the material? How should the content be reported? How should the information be shared between the companies that sell and buy recycled plastic? What is needed here are clear guidelines and agreements”, says Dämien Bolinius.

When a product has become waste EU’s chemicals legislation REACH stops being applicable. Neither the waste stage/route nor the use of recycled materials is included in the risk assessment for chemical substances carried out within REACH. This means that information on the content of hazardous substances is not passed on and that imported goods may contain substances that actually requires a special permit for use in the EU.

– “If we do not ensure that recycled material is free of hazardous substances, the material streams will become increasingly polluted”. Nicklas Gustavsson from Ramboll, who has also participated in the project continues by stating that “an important step would of course be to avoid dangerous substances already in the design of a product”.

To remedy this, the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) has recently launched the SCIP database. All companies that supply the market with articles containing particularly dangerous substances will now be required to share information about these articles with ECHA.

– “This will probably make it easier to track dangerous substances. However, to be able to truly achieve a non-toxic cycle a technological development is required to be able to remove hazardous substances in the recycling process, but even more important is to create incentives through legislation. They are needed both to drive the demand for better information requirements and to address the lack of standards for those who need to report this information, says Dämien Bolinius”.

Download the report Hållbara cirkulära material och farliga ämnen

For more information, please contact:
Dämien Bolinius, damien.johann.bolinius@ivl.se, tel. 010-788 69 35
Nicklas Gustavsson, nicklas.gustavsson@ramboll.se, tel. 010-615 45 40