There will be considerable pressure on many of the world’s natural resources in the near future if we continue to consume them at the same rate as we are now. Therefore it is crucial to focus on resources and recycling – including in the chemicals area. Substances of very high concern often prevent reuse of materials when the products in which they are contained become waste. Although we know that some substances present problems, they continue to be used because there are inadequate good alternatives or because enterprises do not know about the alternatives. Small and medium-sized enterprises in particular lack knowledge about the possibilities to phase-out chemicals of concern by substituting them with substances of less concern or changing to another technology or material.
Themes in this section
Interplay across specialist areas and national borders will create synergies
There is a need for prioritised work across the chemicals area and other specialist areas and ministries, and in collaboration with the business community and NGOs. The activities in the Chemicals Initiatives 2014-2017 will be coordinated closely with the government’s work on waste management and prevention, the recommendations from the Business Panel (Erhvervspanelet), work in the environmental technology area as well as work to promote green public procurement and eco-labels. These efforts will also help pave the way for Danish design and industry to become leading lights in reducing the use of chemicals of concern.
Today, enterprises are not just located in one country. They often divide product development, production and processing into units located in a large number of different countries. Therefore it is crucial to work with other countries on setting focus on substances of concern in products which prevent recycling of resources.As chemicals consumption and pollution depend on activities in a number of sectors, where possible, the Ministry of the Environment will work to incorporate the chemicals and waste dimension in general international work on the green economy, resource efficiency, and sustainable production and consumption.
Collaboration between Danish authorities is an important foundation for their global work. For example, strategic collaboration between the Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will establish greater Danish influence in discussions in the UNEP and GEF; the Global Environment Facility.
New facility for chemicals substitution
In order to combine business development, chemicals initiatives and recycling of waste, a new facility to promote substitution of chemicals of concern with less hazardous chemicals or altogether new solutions will be established.
This facility will build on existing collaboration with universities in Denmark, in which, among other things, experience from chemicals-substitution work by larger enterprises will be exploited. A new framework for dialogue and knowledge-sharing between researchers, authorities and enterprises will contribute to creating more sustainable use of chemicals in products and processes in Denmark. In particular, new tools will be made practicable for small and medium-sized enterprises in order to provide them with innovative opportunities to substitute chemicals of concern in products and materials. They will also contribute to improving the competitiveness of Danish enterprises and increase Denmark’s international influence in the substitution area.
An important part are the work on this new facility will be that small and medium-sized enterprises can receive advice on how they can progress in phasing out chemicals of concern. For example, crowdsourcing could be one method with which the facility could help enterprises find specific knowledge and experience in universities, and couple more students with enterprises. Therefore, digital solutions will be developed, e.g. as a portal where enterprises/stakeholders can ask questions and advertise assignments (crowdsourcing).
The new substitution portal – SUBSPORT – with up to 500 cases on substitution will be exploited optimally in work on paving the way for substitution, particularly in small and medium-sized enterprises. Specifically, the new facility will focus on developing existing databases and calculation tools and combining research-based knowledge on the properties of chemicals in products and processes with strong collaboration with the business community in order to:
- substitute chemicals of concern with chemicals or processes of less concern
- eliminate from products, chemicals harmful to health and the environment which comprise a barrier for subsequent recycling
- optimise chemical processes so that the use of chemicals of concern is minimised and the amount of waste reduced
- further develop tools for systematic design of processes and products without use of chemicals of concern
The new facility will contribute to developing Danish society towards a circular economy in which materials and assets in products are recirculated to a greater extent so that the consumption of energy, virgin raw materials as well as chemicals of concern is reduced as much as possible. Special focus will be on providing small and medium-sized enterprises with better opportunities to reduce their use of chemicals which obstruct subsequent recycling of products and materials.
After 2017 the facility will be operated independently.
It is in every way common sense that we substitute problematic chemicals with non-hazardous chemicals. With this agreement we speed up the work with identifying where substitution is possible and thus beneficial, states Jens Joel, Environment Spokesman for The Danish Social Democrats
I am very pleased that we set the stage for a close cooperation with companies. We need the knowledge and experience of companies if we are to avoid problematic chemicals in future products, states Lone Loklindt, Environment Spokesman for the Danish Social-Liberal Party
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