12.4 Environmentally sound management of chemicals 12.4 Environmentally sound management of chemicals

12.4 Environmentally sound management of chemicals
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Sub-goal 12.4 envisages achieving the environmentally sound management of chemicals and all wastes throughout their lifecycle by 2020 and significantly reducing their release into air, water and soil in order to minimise their adverse effects on human health and the environment.

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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).

Verband der deutschen Chemischen Industrie e.V. (VCI); Industriegewerkschaft Bergbau, Chemie, Energie (IG BCE); Bundesarbeitgeberverband Chemie (BAVC)
Chemie3 - The Sustainability Initiative of the German Chemical Industry

With the launch of Chemie³ in May 2013, VCI (Verband der chemischen Industrie e.V.) IG BCE (Industriegewerkschaft Bergebau, Chemie und Indusrtie) and BAVC (Bundesarbeitgeberverband Chemie e.V.) set out to anchor sustainability as a guiding principle in the entire chemical industry and to expand the contributions of the industry to sustainable development. Chemie³ has developed twelve "Guidelines on Sustainability for the Chemical Industry in Germany" and supports its members in their application in day-to-day business.

12.4 Environmentally sound management of chemicals
SDG 8 SDG 9 SDG 17
Funding measure "Resource-efficient Circular Economy - Innovative Product Cycles"

The funding measure „Resource-efficient Circular Economy – Innovative Product Cycles (ReziProK)” of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) has been initiated to support the closure of product cycles and the extension of product life times. To reach this goal, 25 collaborative projects are developing appropriate business models, design concepts and digital technologies and thereby contribute to the implementation of a resource-efficient circular economy. The research results will be transferred into practice and marketable products will be developed as quickly as possible in order to strengthen companies in Germany as competitive suppliers of circular economy solutions. The ReziProK projects address a wide range of topics and industries. They focus on promoting the use of recycled materials, extending product lifetimes or intensifying product use. In addition, some projects focus on improving the recyclability of electric vehicles and on optimizing and expanding remanufacturing.

12.1 Sustainable consumption and production patterns 12.2 Sustainable management of natural resources 12.4 Environmentally sound management of chemicals 12.5 Reducing waste generation 12.6 Responsible companies
Chemical Leasing

In chemical leasing, a user does not buy a chemical, but buys its desired effect - the function or service of the chemical - while the manufacturer takes care of production, transport and disposal. Since this concept keeps the value chain in one hand, there is an incentive for the most efficient, safe and environmentally friendly production and handling of chemicals throughout their life cycle.
After use, the supplier can take back the discarded chemicals and assume responsibility for environmentally friendly processing or disposal. The concept is aimed at optimising the consumption of chemicals through cooperation along the value chain.

12.4 Environmentally sound management of chemicals
CLIENT II – International Partnerships for Sustainable Innovations

The target of the funding programme is to support international partnerships in the areas of climate, environment and energy.
CLIENT II puts a spotlight on demand-oriented research and development collaborations with select newly industrializing and developing countries with interesting markets for German suppliers of technology. The envisaged projects are to give an effective impetus to reduce environmental pollution in the partner countries, to use natural resources both wisely and economically, to supply safe, clean and affordable energy to all segments of the population, and to make advances in global climate protection and in the adaptation to climate change and natural hazards. 

12.1 Sustainable consumption and production patterns 12.2 Sustainable management of natural resources 12.3 Reducing food losses 12.4 Environmentally sound management of chemicals 12.5 Reducing waste generation 12.6 Responsible companies 12.7 Sustainable public procurement 12.A Supporting developing countries 12.B Sustainable tourism
SDG 6 SDG 7 SDG 8 SDG 13
Arbeitsgemeinschaft Natur- und Umweltbildung Bundesverband e.V.
School Project "Gib Abfall einen Korb"

The nationwide school project "Gib Abfall einen Korb" supports teachers in implementing the topics of waste and littering in the classroom.
In order to sensitise pupils - especially those in lower secondary school as well as extracurricular groups of children and young people - to their waste behaviour and to develop alternative courses of action with them, Zeitbild Verlag annually publishes teaching materials which can be used to create appropriate activities in and outside the classroom.

12.4 Environmentally sound management of chemicals 12.8 Information and awareness for sustainable development
SDG 4 SDG 14 SDG 15