Chemicals strategy for sustainability towards a toxic-free environment

Chemicals are essential for the well-being and high living standards of modern society. They are used in many sectors, including health, energy, mobility and housing.
However, chemicals have hazardous properties which can harm the environment and human health.
The EU already has Developed an exhaustive legislation on chemicals, but global production of chemical products is expected to double by 2030. The already widespread use of chemicals will also increase, including in consumer products.
The European Commission published its chemicals strategy for sustainability on 14 October 2020. It is part of the EU’s zero pollution ambition, which is a key commitment of the European Green Deal.


The EU’s strategy on chemicals aims to:

  • Better protect citizens and the environment
  • boost innovation for safe and sustainable chemicals


  • Banning the most harmful chemicals in consumer products, allowing their use only where essential.
  • Account for the cocktail effect of chemicals when assessing risks from chemicals.
  • Phasing out the use of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in the EU, unless their use is essential.
  • Boosting the investment capacity and innovation for production and use of chemicals that are safe and sustainable-by-design, and throughout their life cycle.
  • Promoting the EU’s resilience of supply and sustainability of critical chemicals.
  • Establishing a simpler “one substance, one assessment” process for the risk and hazard assessment of chemicals.
  • Playing a leading role globally by championing and promoting high standards and not exporting chemicals banned in the EU.

Implementation of the chemicals strategy

The chemicals strategy for sustainability outlines over 80 actions and sets an indicative timeline for their implementation. The Commission provides regular updates of the state of implementation of the actions in the tracking table.

  • High-level round table on the chemicals strategy
  • Promoting safe and sustainable by design chemicals
  • Chemicals and the circular economy: towards non-toxic material cycles
  • Strengthening the EU’s open strategic autonomy
  • Tackling the most harmful substances
  • Essential uses
  • Endocrine disruptors
  • PFAS
  • Chemical mixtures
  • One substance, one assessment
  • Zero-tolerance approach to non-compliance
  • Research, innovation and funding
  • Indicators

The chemical industry’s position on the chemicals strategy

The chemical industry supports the public health and environmental goals of the strategy and shares the vision outlined by the European Commission in the Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability. What is required is a strategy implementation plan that boosts the competitiveness of the European chemical industry, harnesses the essential role of chemicals to deliver climate neutrality and circular economy ambitions, supports the economic recovery plan and integrates multiple facets of chemicals management including safety, circularity, resource efficiency, environmental footprint, science and innovation.
With 96% of all manufactured goods relying on chemicals, Europe’s chemical industry is at the heart of almost all value chains and provides solutions that will deliver the Green Deal, from solar panels to batteries, wind turbines and hydrogen to building insulation and pharmaceuticals, to name just a few.
The chemical industry also needs to transform its own production processes to achieve climate neutrality by 2050. This transition will prove successful only if the Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability transforms into a growth strategy for Europe’s fourth largest industry.
While the Strategy proposes a long and detailed list of legislative measures with the corresponding timing to better protect citizens (an objective we support), it lacks specificity and clarity on how the second objective will be met, that is boost innovation for safe and sustainable chemicals. Both objectives need to work hand in hand.
HACI is participating in the consultation process focused on a chemicals strategy in concert with a growth strategy.

The European chemical industry has commissioned an economic impact study for the chemicals sector. Find below some of the conclusions drawn:

Economic Analysis of the Impacts of the Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability
Phase I report commissioned by the European Chemical Industry Council (Cefic)
2 December 2021