New CSCP Research Looks into Indicators for Sustainable Chemicals Management

Chemical substances in products can either enable or hinder circularity, thus playing a major role on the sustainability performance of the products in question. A new study published as part of the CSCP research project Sustainable Management of Chemicals looks into indicators for sustainable management of chemicals as well as criteria to ensure the quality of the indicators.

The research was commissioned by the German Environmental Agency as part of the German Focal Point contribution to the fifth International Conference on Chemicals (ICCM5).

In September 2023, the ICCM5 introduced the Global Framework on Chemicals (GFC), following up on the earlier Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM). The GFC aims to promote the sustainable use of chemicals worldwide, covering their entire life cycle from production to waste.

Chemistry can be both a solution and a problem. While it offers countless benefits in everyday life, it can also pose serious risks if not managed properly. To ensure that chemicals are produced, used, and recycled safely and sustainably, it is crucial to measure and monitor their impact.

The study “Indicators for Sustainable Management of Chemicals“ focuses on creating simple and practical indicators to help track chemicals management and its effects, especially in developing countries. These indicators are tools to measure various aspects like the use of renewable resources, safety in the workplace, and recycling practices. Indicators from the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and other international standards were reviewed to see how well they could be applied.

A multi-stakeholder approach was applied to ensure a variety of perspectives in the indicator definition. Experts from around the world discussed and refined indicators in several international workshops. The indicators were discussed using a set of criteria such as importance, specificity, data availability, and sustainable practices. The outcome was a list of 45 useful indicators for managing chemicals globally, with 23 recommended for tracking the ‘sound management of chemicals and waste‘.

Some of these indicators also align with the European Commission’s Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability (CSS). A preliminary review of the targets set at ICCM5 in 2023 shows that these indicators could play a key role in shaping the future discussions and policies for the Global Framework on Chemicals.

For additional details, please check out the report in our CSCP library.

For further questions, please contact Esther Heidbüchel.

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