Safe and Sustainable by Design: Building a Better Future with BIO-SUSHY
Welcome to our 2nd blog article on the BIO-SUSHY project.
This blog is dedicated to one of the pillars and keywords of BIO-SUSHY: the exciting world of Safe and Sustainable by Design (SSbD).
However, you might wonder what SSbD is and how it plays a crucial role in the BIO-SUSHY project. Well, we’ve got you covered!
In this article, we will first introduce what SSbD is, then dig deeper into each aspect of Safe and Sustainable, concluding by emphasising why SSbD is essential.
Figure 1: Visualization of the circular economy concept (based on source).
Introduction to SSbD and SSbD in BIO-SUSHY
SSbD is an approach that prioritizes the safety and sustainability of products right from their initial design phase. It is about ensuring that the products we use daily are safer for us and the environment and sustainable throughout their life cycle. In simple terms, it means creating products that are good for both us and the planet, from the moment they are conceived until they are disposed of.
The SSbD approach is promoted by the European Commission (EC) in line with the objectives set out in the European Green Deal and the Chemical Strategy for Sustainability (CSS).
In this sense, the EC developed a methodology for figuring out if certain chemicals and materials are safe and good for the environment, and it follows five steps:
- Hazard Assessment: First, it looks at what these chemicals and materials are made of and how they might be naturally harmful.
- Human Health and Safety: It checks if the people who make and use these chemicals and materials are safe. The EC wants to make sure workers are protected and risks are minimized.
- Final Use: Next, it examines what happens when people actually use these chemicals and materials. Are there any dangers or risks when they’re used in real life?
- Environmental Impact: It looks at the entire life cycle of these chemicals and materials, from production to disposal. They want to know how they affect the environment at every stage.
- Socio-economic Implications: Finally, it considers how using these chemicals and materials affects society and the economy. Are there any positive or negative effects on people’s lives and the economy?
By following these five steps, the EC can make sure that the chemicals and materials we use are safe and don’t harm the environment. This supports the European Union’s goal of having a clean, toxic-free environment.
In BIO-SUSHY, we are working on defining criteria for safety and sustainability in the development of novel coatings. We want to replace hazardous substances (check our previous article on PFAS here) in products like plastic wraps, food trays, and textiles.
Now that you have an overall idea of SSbD, let’s take a closer look at the Safe and Sustainable concepts individually.
Figure 2: Safety plays a fundamental role in SSbD.
When we talk about safety in design, it is all about identifying and addressing potential hazards and risksassociated with a product. Think of it as making sure the product will not cause harm to you, the user, or the environment. We do this by incorporating safety measures into both the material and process design.
Safe by Material Design means carefully choosing the materials used to make the product. We select materials that are non-toxic and pose minimal risks to humans and the environment according to the existing legislation.
Safe by Process Design involves creating industrial processes that reduce or eliminate potential risks and ensure the product’s safety as per regulatory frameworks. This way, we can be confident that the product you get is safer to use and contributes to diminishing environmental impacts on our planet.
Figure 3: Sustainability is a core component of the SSbD framework.
Sustainability in design focuses on developing products with a minimal environmental impact throughout their life cycle since they are built until they cannot be used anymore. We want to promote a circular economy where resources are conserved, waste is minimised, and environmentally friendly materials are used.
So, how do you identify genuinely sustainable practices, products or processes?
The European Commission has set up a framework that defines what is truly sustainable based on six environmental objectives. These objectives cover:
- climate change mitigation,
- climate change adaptation,
- water and marine resources,
- circular economy transition,
- pollution prevention and control,
- and biodiversity and ecosystems restoration.
Sustainability also means striving for zero waste, promoting durability and repairability, and ensuring that the product’s life cycle has minimal impacts on the planet and society.
The Importance of SSbD
Now, you might be wondering why all this SSbD stuff matters. Well, there are several important reasons why we should prioritize Safe and Sustainable by Design:
- Protecting users and the environment: By designing products with safety and sustainability in mind, we ensure that they are safer for you and do not harm the environment. This reduces accidents, injuries, and pollution.
- Long-term cost savings: SSbD can lead to significant cost savings over the product’s lifetime. Addressing safety issues early on prevents costly recalls or repairs. Sustainable design also reduces energy and resource consumption, cutting down operational costs.
- Meeting regulations and standards: Many industries have specific safety and sustainability regulations. Incorporating SSbD ensures compliance, avoiding penalties, and enhancing product credibility.
- Enhancing brand reputation: Consumers value safe and sustainable products. Companies that prioritize SSbD build a positive reputation, attract eco-conscious customers, and strengthen brand loyalty.
- Driving innovation: SSbD challenges designers to come up with innovative solutions that can lead to groundbreaking advancements in product development. It sparks creativity and fosters progress.
In conclusion, Safe and Sustainable by Design is the way forward for a better and healthier future. With projects like BIO-SUSHY, we can create products that not only benefit us but also protect our planet. By choosing safer and more sustainable products, you become part of this positive change. Let’s embrace SSbD together and build a world where we can all thrive safely and sustainably. Thank you for being a part of this exciting journey!
- OECD. 2022. Series on the Safety of Manufactured Nanomaterials, No. 105. Moving Sustainability and Safe and Sustainable by Design: Working Descriptions for the Safer Innovation Approach. Report ENV/CBC/MONO(2022)30. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Paris, France. [Link]
- OECD. 2020. Series on the Safety of Manufactured Nanomaterials, No. 96. Moving Towards a Safe(r) Innovation Approach (SIA) for More Sustainable Nanomaterials and Nano-enabled Products. Report ENV/JM/MONO(2020)36/REV1. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Paris, France. [Link]
- “#SUSNANOFAB – Safe and Sustainability by Design.” YouTube video. [Link]
- “European Commission on SSbD.” YouTube webinar. [Link]
- The European Chemical Industry Council, Cefic. 2021. Safe And Sustainable By-Design: Boosting Innovation And Growth Within The European Chemical Industry. Brussels, Belgium. [Link]
- REGULATION (EU) 2020/852 OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 18 June 2020 on the establishment of a framework to facilitate sustainable investment, and amending Regulation (EU) 2019/2088. [Link]
- COMMISSION RECOMMENDATION of 8.12.2022 establishing a European assessment framework for ‘safe and sustainable by design’ chemicals and materials. Brussels, Belgium. [Link]
- European Parliament. 2020. “Chemicals strategy for sustainability, European Parliament resolution of 10 July 2020 on the Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability (2020/2531(RSP)).” [Link]