The EU Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability (CSS) aims at contributing to the safeguard of human health and the environment as part of an ambitious approach to move towards a zero-pollution and toxic-free environment. A key action defined in the CSS is the development of criteria for safe and sustainable by design for chemicals. SSbD aims at facilitating the industrial transition towards a safe, zero pollution, climate-neutral and resource-efficient production and consumption, addressing adverse effects on humans, ecosystems and biodiversity from a lifecycle perspective. Advanced materials are a source of prosperity of an industrial society and will also have a major in the transition towards sustainability.
To fulfil these ambitions, the European Commission (EC) developed a framework for the definition of criteria for SSbD chemicals and materials to steer innovation towards the green industrial transition, foster substitution or minimisation of the production and use of substances of concern, and minimize impact on human health, climate and the environment.
The framework encompasses both safety and sustainability assessment, conducted by means of life cycle assessment and it represents the backbone of the EC recommendation released in December 2022 (https://research-and-innovation.ec.europa.eu/news/all-research-and-innovation-news/recommendation-safe-and-sustainable-chemicals-published-2022-12-08_en).
The framework is composed of two components: a (re)design phase in which design guiding principles and indicators are proposed to support the design of chemicals and materials, and a safety and sustainability assessment phase in which the safety, environmental and socio-economic sustainability of the chemical/ material are assessed.
To foster the application of the SSBD framework to steer eco-innovation, innovators and the chemical industry have a pivotal role to play encompassing e.g., data availability, specific methodological development, sectorial rules, definition of benchmarks. The presentation will illustrate the framework and the specific implications and challenges for advanced materials.
About Hubert Rauscher
Dr. Hubert Rauscher (PhD in Physics, Technical University Munich, Germany) has worked for the European Commission’s (EC) Joint Research Centre (JRC) on nanomaterials and nanosafety since 2005. He carried out research on properties of nanostructures and nanoparticles at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (USA) and, as a Lecturer in Physical Chemistry, at the University Ulm (Germany). At the JRC Hubert leads the activities on the EC’s nanomaterial definition, provides scientific support to make EU legislation fit for nanomaterials and works with international fora such as the OECD’s Working Party on Manufactured Nanomaterials. Recent activities focus on policy support and regulatory needs for advanced materials, which are safe and sustainable by design. Hubert co-developed the JRC framework for the definition of criteria and evaluation procedure for chemicals and materials, which is the scientific basis of the EC Recommendation on a European assessment framework for ‘safe and sustainable by design’ chemicals and materials.