12.4 Environmentally sound management of chemicals
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The most important legal requirements for the implementation of SDG 12.4 in Germany are based on European legislation.
With regard to environmentally sound and sustainable chemicals management in Germany, Regulation (EC) 1907/2006 on the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) plays a central role. REACH aims to ensure a high level of protection for human health and the environment. It includes regulations for the collection and evaluation of substance and product information as well as information obligations along the supply chain. In addition, restrictions may be imposed on unacceptable risks from substances. It is possible to establish an approval regulation for substances that are classified as of very high concern (so-called SVHC). The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) supports the Commission and the member states in the implementation of REACH. It keeps a publicly accessible database of all registered substances. The agency also examines the information provided by the industry as part of the registration obligation for compliance with the law. Finally, the ECHA is involved in the identification of substances of concern and the preparation of decisions on chemical risk management at the EU level. In view of the mentioned protection objective, Regulation (EU) No 1272/2008 (CLP Regulation) contains rules on the classification, labelling and packaging of substances and mixtures. ECHA maintains a public classification and labelling directory.
In addition, Regulation (EC) No 850/2004 on the implementation of the obligations under the Stockholm Convention limits the production, sale and use of persistent organic pollutants (POPs). Regulation (EU) 2017/852 includes regulations to protect against mercury as part of the implementation of Minamata Convention. Regulations (EU) No 1005/2009 and (EU) No 517/2014 are intended to transpose the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer in Europe. Supplementary regulations on chemicals management at the national level include, in particular, the Chemicals Act and the Chemicals Prohibition Ordinance.
Another important basis is the EU Directive 2010/75/EU on industrial emissions (Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control) of 24/11/2010 (IE Directive, IED for short). The Directive regulates the approval, operation and monitoring of environmentally relevant industrial facilities with the aim of preventing or minimising pollution. To this end, it specifies ‘best available techniques’, among other things. Also worth mentioning is the Water Framework Directive (WFD), which sets environmental quality standards for the chemical status of waters. Unless regulated directly by the EU, the implementation of both directives in Germany is mainly due to changes in the Federal Immission Control Act (BImSchG), the Federal Water Act (WHG) and the Closed Substance Cycle Waste Management Act (KrwG).
In Germany, the implementation of SDG 12.4 is also promoted by non-statutory measures, e.g. through guidelines and other aids for producers and consumers. One example is the ‘Guide for Sustainable Chemicals’ developed by the Federal Environmental Agency (UBA), a decision-making tool for the selection of substances and the use of chemicals aimed at sustainable chemicals and waste management. In order to further disseminate the idea of sustainable chemicals and provide practical support to producers and users, the BMU and UBA have founded the International Sustainable Chemistry Collaborative Centre (ISC3), based in Bonn.
In addition to the political efforts, it should also be pointed out that the German chemical industry increasingly seeks to anchor sustainability as a guiding principle in the private sector – take the industry initiative Chemie³, for example.
The Federal Government endeavours to work together with interest groups to further develop sustainable chemistry and to anchor it internationally. In collaboration with industry, non-governmental organisations and trade unions, it has launched the Partnership for Sustainable Textiles, which seeks to improve social and environmental conditions along the entire supply chain of this sector.
Data related to the two indicators for SDG 12.4 are collected and made available at national level. The information is accessible on the National Reporting Platform (NRP).