Chemical management and the circular economy

Play your part in the circular economy with Enhesa Product Intelligence

Avoiding hazardous substances in recyclable waste streams.

Circularity built in.

What is the circular economy?

The circular economy is a holistic approach to economic growth that aims to keep resources in use for as long as possible, extract the maximum value from them while in use, and then recover and regenerate products and materials at the end of life.

As the concept of the circular economy gains momentum, consumer-facing downstream businesses close to their customers are increasingly setting circularity goals to extend the lifecycle of products and materials as part of their sustainability initiatives.

For this reason, the issues of hazardous substances in product design and recyclable waste streams are becoming even more important.

Toxic chemicals can be an obstacle to circularity and for any business looking to create safe and sustainable products.

Circular economy developments in chemicals management – what are the drivers?

Policymakers and regulatory authorities in Europe are leading the way in actively addressing issues around the circular economy. Hazardous substances in recyclable waste streams are considered within the Circular Economy Action plan (CEAP), which was introduced under the ‘Sustainable Industry’ area of focus in the EU Green Deal; and the concept of Safe and Sustainable-by-Design is an important element of the EU Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability.

The European Commission has included actions related to the circular economy in its ‘Transition Pathway for the Chemical Industry’, published in January 2023.

EU Green Deal: Areas of focus


Cefic, the European Chemical Industry Council, positions the chemical industry as an important solution provider for sustainability. One of the four areas it focuses on to progress sustainable development is the adoption of circular economy principles to prevent waste, achieve a low-carbon economy and enhance resource efficiency.

In North America and Asia, the issue of hazardous substances is not yet high on the agenda although the circular economy concept is gaining pace.

Companies, particularly downstream businesses, are taking a proactive approach with individual and sector-wide actions to source recyclable materials that do not contain hazardous substances.

NGOs are lobbying for circular economy policies to address hazardous substances and are encouraging companies to avoid certain substances during the product design phase. They are also urging waste operators to find ways to remove the substances.

What does the circular economy mean for you?

The circular economy is far from being a reality – even in the EU.

But at policy level, the circular economy is a priority that will increasingly affect your ability to make safe and sustainable products and meet your company’s own sustainability goals.

How can Enhesa Product help?

Many questions around circularity remain unanswered. Circular economy content features across Enhesa Product Intelligence services.


Chemical Watch News & Insight

Award-winning content to inform product safety strategy, including coverage of regulatory, scientific and industry developments on the circular economy.

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Regulatory Database

Comprehensive structured product compliance data solution providing coverage of product regulations including waste reduction at product design and end of life stages.

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Professional Development

Circular economy content features regularly in Chemical Watch Events & Training’s world-leading events program. Past events include the Product Sustainability Summits in Europe and the US and The Scip Database and Circularity in the EU.

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Recent news coverage of circular economy

Regulatory content and sustainability intelligence

Plastics treaty negotiators make slow progress addressing chemicals, product design

2 May 2024 | Countries agree to continue talks this autumn in effort to reach agreement by year’s end

Regulatory content and sustainability intelligence

Cefic pushes for targeted ‘substances of concern’ definition under ESPR

10 January 2024 | Association says product group specification needed for successful circular economy implementation

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