The overarching Swedish goal of a non-toxic environment relates directly to the new Safe and Sustainable-by-Design (SSbD) concept, which is considered a prerequisite for achieving a circular economy. Therefore, SweNanoSafe organized a workshop on November 29th aimed at positioning Sweden and Swedish authorities in the ongoing development and implementation of SSbD. The workshop attracted close to 90 participants. An overview of the workshop contents and the key outcomes are summarised in a report, including speakers’ biographies and abstracts. Download the SweNanoSafe Report 2022:1.
A few central conclusions arose from the presentations and discussions, which were summarised by Gregory Moore from KEMI. Overall, it was agreed that a holistic approach is needed where the aim of the SSbD concept is to decrease both the chemical footprint (safety) and the ecological footprint (sustainability) of human activity and innovation. The importance of aligning and integrating safety, functionality and circularity in innovation is central. This aim is clearly met by the SIA concept incorporating not only SSbD, but also Regulatory Preparedness and Trusted Environments to achieve industrial relevance, regulatory effectiveness and societal trust (and awareness). It is clear that the window of opportunity is now with the rise of policy ambition goals towards safety and sustainability, evidenced by a number of EU and OECD driven strategies, including in particular the EU Chemical Strategy for Sustainability, the EU Green Deal, the OECD report on the SIA concept and many more.
These conclusions align with the five research needs identified by the EEA; the needs for i) criteria, ii) efficient tools, iii) data, iv) standardisation and v) enabling environments as mentioned in the Introduction (van der Waals et al. 2019). Overall, eleven key future activities for the success of SSbD were identified as listed below. SweNanoSafe will aim to continue to support these activities.
- The need for drivers, mandates, and a move away from working in silos. Global players such as the OECD are central to the change.
- The need for high level harmonisation of definitions/terms/concepts, including overall for SSbD, but also for the scope of the concept i.e. coverage of AdMa, nanomaterials, chemicals, etc.
- Development of clear implementable criteria for both safety and sustainability in order to make SSbD actionable through regulatory means
- Development of scoring approaches driven by scientific evidence, but also including societal considerations
- Development of harmonised and accepted test methods, including considerations of New Approach Methodologies and overcoming the issues of trust in new methods
- Implementation of FAIR principles throughout all data generating processes, including scientific, industrial and regulatory, in support of machine-driven approaches (AI) for both safety and sustainability assessment (including e.g. toxicity prediction, life cycle assessment and traceability of materials/chemicals)
- The need for case studies demonstrating practical implementation of SSbD
- The need for investment to assure effective and efficient cooperation
- Efforts to implement early warning systems in order to avoid substances/materials of concern already today (not to be confused with the REACH Substances of Very High Concern compliance). Approaches have been suggested by many, including the Materials of Concern concept proposed by the German Federal Authorities in their report (Schwirn et al. 2022)
- The need for translating international activities on SSbD (OECD) to fit European and national level implementation
- The overall need for cultural change, i.e. thinking (and literally stepping) out of the box in order to accept and effectively implement high level SSbD