Finnish Environment Institute | Suomen ympäristökeskus | Finlands miljöcentral

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Managing chemicals and material cycles

In sustainalble circular economy it is important to reduce the use of hazardous substances throughout entire product’s life cycle.

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Material cycles should not entail any risks to humans or the environment. In a sustainable circular economy we must also manage substances that give desirable qualities to products, but which may cause problems when products are reused or recycled. Products imported from outside the EU represent a special challenge in the context of the circular economy, since information on their exact composition may be unavailable.

SYKE has extensive and diverse know-how and research on hazardous substances and their management in societal and environmental cycles.

Product design is important

We must strive to reduce the use of hazardous substances throughout entire product’s life cycle: from design to production, use, maintenance, reuse and recycling. Therefore, good product design and inclusion of chemical information are essential in order to manage the risks to humans and to the environment. Well-designed products can, if needed, be dismantled and recycled in parts. By doing so, the material and substance compositions of different compartments can be taken into account.

Information remains with products

Ensuring that chemical information remains with products whenever they are transferred to new owners enables the effective management of chemicals throughout product’s life cycle, all the way to the recycling of their material content. Chemical information may be transferred using digital tools, such as barcodes, QR codes or RFID tags.

Scope for innovation in recycling and utilising wastes

Recycled materials vary by composition, age and origin.To guarantee the quality and safety of recycled materials, new extraction and purification methods must be developed, materials should be chosen carefully, and waste management systems must be planned to anticipate such risks.

New reliable ways to analyse and comparably measure hazardous substances in recycled materials must still be found. Measured data guarantees the quality of such materials and in this way will increase their value.

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Published 2018-01-02 at 9:57, updated 2018-02-28 at 11:53

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