Symposium to Set Priorities for Attaining the Sound Management of Chemicals and Waste in the Context of a Circular Economy

CHENGDU, CHINA (September 11, 2018) – Today, experts from various regions, sectors and backgrounds will convene in Chengdu, China to identify opportunities, address challenges and facilitate innovative solutions that will unlock the full potential of a Circular Economy. Hosted by the International Council of Chemical Associations (ICCA) and UN Environment, and supported by the China Petroleum and Chemical Industry Federation (CPCIF), participants share knowledge and experience of the technologies, business models, financing structures, and policy conditions required to fully achieve circularity. As an end product, government, academia, non-governmental organizations and industry will develop key messages and tangible next steps which they believe will maximize action and advance a Circular Economy on a global level.

“Today’s ever-growing population continues to put a strain on the world’s limited resources,” said Jacob Duer, Chief, Chemicals and Health Branch, UN Environment Progamme. “It is crucial resources are used efficiently, and that a restorative and regenerative process be put into place that both enables economic development, and protects human health and the environment.”

Circularity aims at ensuring that products and materials are at their highest utility and value at all times. It also aims to decouple economic development from the consumption of finite resources and from environmental impacts. More than 96% of all manufactured goods are at least partially composed of chemicals. Benefits and challenges related to the very nature of these products exist throughout their lifecycle and need to be considered to ensure development of sustainable solutions that build circularity.

“The economy will gradually become more circular when circular value chains become more competitive.  It will be an evolutionary process, involving all players, in which practical solutions will survive if they bring benefits for consumers and are viable and profitable for businesses as well as being more sustainable,” said Marco Mensink, Council Secretary of ICCA. “To support this process, policies should focus on innovations that reduce the cost of reusing (raw)materials and recovering waste, and which improve the longevity, durability and performance of products, based on a full life-cycle approach. A prerequisite to achieve circularity is the safe and sound management of chemicals and waste.”

For more than 30 years, the chemical industry has recognized the need to continuously improve its environmental, health and safety performance, and developed Responsible Care® to advance the sustainable management of materials in all their lifecycle phases. Similarly, the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM), which is a multi-stakeholder and multi-sectoral platform, promotes partnerships, institutional strengthening and the development of national legislation and regulatory frameworks on chemicals and waste.

“This Symposium provides a platform for stakeholder to shape the future of the sound management of chemicals and waste beyond 2020 and provide concrete examples on how the concept of circularity ultimately leads to sustainable production and consumption,” continued Duer. “The Symposium will also provide innovative solutions such as the creation of enabling environments for creative approaches in policy, partnerships and processes to understand environmental issues and improve sustainability. These solutions will feed into the fourth UN Environment Assembly on ‘Innovative solutions for environmental challenges and sustainable consumption and production’.”

“This collaborative Symposium demonstrates how bringing together a diverse set of the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management stakeholders, all of whom seek to reach a common understanding and to address the challenges the chemicals and waste industry faces, can foster innovation and help us define the conditions needed to achieve circularity,” said Mr. Li Shousheng, Chairman and Party Secretary, CPCIF. “From developing policy frameworks that enable public-private partnerships, to enhancing investments in chemicals and waste management, together we will identify the conditions needed to make progress towards the sound management of chemicals and waste and advance a circular economy on a global scale.”