Chemicals and the “Zero Pollution Action Plan”

Chemicals and the “Zero Pollution Action Plan”
01 December 2020

Consumers are widely exposed to chemicals present in products, from toys and childcare articles to food contact materials, cosmetics, furniture and textiles, to name a few and workers across the EU come into contact daily with chemical agents that can be harmful to them. In addition, chemical pollution is one of the key drivers putting the Earth at risk, impacting and amplifying planetary crises such as climate change, degradation of ecosystems and loss of biodiversity. Chemicals, materials and products must therefore become inherently safe and sustainable, from production to end of life, avoiding the most harmful properties and generating the lowest possible impact on climate, resource use, ecosystems and biodiversity.  


Stepping up implementation and enforcement of European chemicals legislation is needed to ensure compliance for the whole life cycle of chemicals: production, placing on the market, release and disposal. Currently almost 30% of the alerts on dangerous products on the market involve risks due to chemicals. Also, only one third of the registration dossiers of the chemical substances registered by industry under REACH are fully compliant with the information requirements. The Zero Pollution Action Plan proposes a number of measures to ensure better controls by authorities. The Commission will carry out audits on the enforcement systems of the Member States, and make proposals to further strengthen the principles of 'no data, no market' and the ‘polluter-pays'.

Making chemicals safe and sustainable is also a great economic opportunity – there are already frontrunners in the EU in that, including SMEs, but many still encounter economic and technical barriers. The Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability Towards a Toxic-Free Environment defines a set of regulatory and non-regulatory measures to increase and boost industrial innovations and production. Criteria on ‘safe and sustainable by design' chemicals will be defined and used for public and private investments. The Strategy describes incentives to support research, development and the market uptake of new chemicals, and the overall green transition of the production processes in industries producing and using chemicals. The competitiveness of the EU industry will be supported through regulatory changes in chemical legislation to ensure a level playing field between the EU and non-EU industry.

The Commission will support, through its financial instruments and research and innovation programmes (The European structural and investment funds, the Just Transition Mechanism, InvestEU, the Strategic Investment Facility, React-EU, Horizon Europe and the Digital Europe programme):


  • research and development in advanced materials for applications in the energy, construction, mobility, health, agriculture and electronics sectors to deliver the green and digital transition; 


  • research, development and deployment of low-carbon and low environmental impact chemical and material production processes; 


  • research and development of innovative business models such as performance-based business model to ensure a more efficient use of chemicals and other resources and the minimization of wastes and emissions;


  • re-skilling and up-skilling the workforce involved in the production and use of chemicals towards the green and digital transition; 


  • access to risk finance, in particular for SMEs and start-ups; 


  • development and deployment of infrastructure allowing to switch to the use, transport and storage of electricity from renewable / carbon-neutral energy sources for the production of chemicals; 


  • increase the current deployment rate of available technologies for manufacturing purposes such as internet of things, big data, artificial intelligence, automation, smart sensors and robotics.


For information on how B2EU Consulting could support your organisation in developing a funding strategy and in unlocking different financing tools for your operation in the green sector, please don’t hesitate to contact us at: info@b2eu-consulting.com


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