BEUC view on how to detoxify the green economy

 

BEUC NEWS - 7.08.2017

In a ‘circular economy’, old products become the basis for new ones, waste is minimised and goods are manufactured more sustainably. Such a model is great for the environment and the economy but not only. Consumers also benefit from washing machines that last longer and new services such as product leasing, like car-sharing. Since 2005, the EU has been striving to transition to the era of “doing more with less”.

But to make the circular economy a success, the EU needs ambitious rules that prevent toxic chemicals from reentering consumers’ homes as recycled goods. Whether products are made from virgin or recycled materials, they must remain safe for consumers. This is what BEUC has recently advised the EU Commission in its response to a public consultation on chemicals in the circular economy.

BEUC highlights that current EU chemicals laws are not fit to support a circular economy. Robust protections against harmful chemicals are missing for many consumer products and, when they do exist, they are too often improperly applied or checked.

Indeed, when BEUC’s members do comparative tests they frequently find hazardous chemicals in products with which consumers come in very close, regular and prolonged contact, such as textiles, shoes, and toys.

But there is good news. Much of the consumer exposure could be avoided as these chemicals are found in some but not all tested products. If some products can work with less chemicals, why not others?

A precautionary approach is needed to avoid the re-injection of toxic substances into the production cycle, creating an endless hazardous legacy. BEUC therefore calls on EU decision makers to champion a sustainable and resource-efficient circular economy that truly benefits consumers. 

See our response to consultation here.