All materials around us, our furniture, computer screens, and the clothes we wear, are a mixture of different chemicals. A circular economy is about material cycles – how we use, re-use and dispose of materials, how we minimise waste and how we make the most of resources in that process. Risks to humans or the environment should be avoided, so the use of hazardous chemicals in products should be reduced throughout their entire life cycle.
The more sustainable our society becomes and the closer we move towards a circular economy, the longer the chemicals will stay in use, making it more difficult to remove those that are problematic. The EU’s chemicals legislation helps to ensure safe material cycles and make a circular economy work.
Promoting clean material cycles
The EU is taking action to promote clean material cycles and reduce the use of hazardous chemicals throughout a product’s life cycle. One example is the use of end-of-life tyres.
Artificial sports pitches and playgrounds often use rubber granules as infill material. The granules are usually made from scrap end-of-life tyres that are broken up and ground down into smaller forms. This rubber crumb may contain a number of potentially hazardous substances, which has led to concerns about the safety of artificial sports pitches and playgrounds.
There is currently a proposal to limit the concentration of hazardous substances in the granules used as infill material in synthetic pitches. This restriction would help to protect the health of those playing on the pitches including children and professional players, but also workers installing or maintaining the pitches
Innovating safe alternatives
The European chemicals legislation places obligations but also provides incentives for industry to replace hazardous substances with less hazardous ones. Producing cleaner materials without hazardous chemicals makes recycling easier, preserves our environment and is key to making a circular economy work. Companies innovating and investing in safer alternatives also contribute to the competitiveness of European industry on the global market.