The “Safe and Sustainable by Design” Concept - A Regulatory Approach for a More Sustainable Circular Economy in the European Union?

Leonie Reins*, Julia Wijns

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Abstract

The creation of a more sustainable economy is one of the main targets of the European Green Deal and the new Circular Economy Action Plan. Technological innovation is needed, among other things, to render materials, products, and production processes more sustainable. Given the goals of the European Green Deal, the regulatory concept of “Safe and Sustainable by Design” is increasingly receiving attention. The concept is (arguably) a precautionary and preventative measure that is implemented at the early stages of the design of a technology. Therefore, it is often described as a tool for lowering the risks that follow from efforts to create a more circular economy. The concept was included in the European Chemicals Strategy of the European Commission. The aim of the strategy is to accelerate progress towards the discovery of more sustainable chemicals and towards a toxicity-free environment. In this paper, we will explore the benefits and disadvantages of integrating the “Safe and Sustainable by Design” concept into the regulation of technology. As a form of regulation by technology, this concept can enhance sustainability. We will first describe the origins of the concept and its current use. Then, we will analyse its implications for the circular economy.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Risk Regulation
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2024

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Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s), 2024.

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