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Ecobio’s key take-home messages from the Helsinki Chemicals Forum 2021

This year’s Helsinki Chemicals Forum (HCF) took place virtually on the 27th and 28th of April. Ecobio also joined the Forum as probably many of you too. In this brief blog we would like to share with you what we got out of the lively discussions during the two days. In these take-home messages, we concentrate in the EU’s Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability. This is because it was by far the most heavily debated topic at the HCF.

As we all know, the EU’s new growth strategy, the European Green Deal, has set the European Union (EU) to become a sustainable climate neutral and circular economy by 2050. Therefore, it sets the goals to tackle pollution and move towards a toxic-free environment. The EU’s Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability (CSS), published in October 2020, is part of this scope. Not only because the chemical manufacturing industry is the fourth largest sector in the EU, but also because the chemicals are used in 95% of all manufactured goods.

Safe and sustainable-by-design to protect human health and the environment

The future chemicals have to be safe and sustainable-by-design, the CSS outlines. Although the actual meaning of this is yet to be defined in the EU, the debate during the HCF was around the following lines. New green chemistries need to be developed and used to produce new types of molecules to replace the most harmful current ones. The safe and sustainable-by-design concept needs to go through the entire life cycle of the chemical. For example, at the sourcing stage of the raw materials, the workers’ safety and human rights need to be adhered, and similarly at the manufacturing stage, too. The manufacturers also need to produce their chemicals, materials, and products environmentally friendly, e.g., by using renewable energy sources.

The safe use of the chemicals, materials and products must be guaranteed. In the final stage of their life cycle the waste must be recycled in a manner that contributes to the circular economy. Information and transparency from the start to the end of product’s life are the key. Currently, we do not know anything about 70% of the chemicals, which was reminded at the HCF. Some speakers pointed out that without the right information through the entire product-chain we would not know how to appropriately recycle the waste in the end, in particular of the long-lasting materials such as concrete. As a starting point to improve this and to enable consumers to make informed choices, ECHA is going to make the data in its SCIP-database publicly available by the end of this year.

Innovation and funding are prerequisite for the new developments

The CSS promotes innovation to develop the new chemicals of safe and sustainable-by-design. It was made clear during the HCF discussions that funding is needed at all fronts from the development to manufacturing until the waste management. The EU will provide funding for these innovations; they could be e.g., new green chemistries, new greener technologies at the manufacturing sites or novel ways to decontaminate waste.

Voices were heard at the HCF that funding is highly important. Concerns were raised how competitive the EU’s future chemicals sector would be if the non-EU-economies do not follow similar green strategies. It was also pointed out that chemicals sector will face many challenges simultaneously between now and 2050: green and digital transition challenge, circularity challenge and CSS. The CSS is a bigger regulatory update than REACH ever was, some HCF speakers noted. It was acknowledged, however, that the CSS gives a great opportunity for the EU’s chemical industry to be a global front-runner.

Essential use of the chemicals is the way forward

The CSS brings forward the concept on the essential use of the chemicals. Again, this is yet to be defined by the EU. Nevertheless, it was discussed in the HCF that in the evaluation process of the chemicals, the essentiality of their uses should also be assessed. The CSS outlines that the essential use must be a justified use where the most harmful chemicals are only allowed if their uses are necessary for health, safety or are critical for the functioning of society, and if there are no alternatives. Examples were given from the medical device sector; while the same harmful chemical used in a medical device could be considered essential, in the consumer products it should be banned.

The CSS clearly aims at ensuring with the generic risk management approach that consumer products such as food contact materials, toys, childcare articles, cosmetics, detergents, furniture, and textiles, do not contain chemicals that cause cancers, gene mutations, affect the reproductive or the endocrine system, or are persistent and bioaccumulative. To empower this, the substances will be assessed and regulated in groups, instead of one-by-one. This will speed up the assessments made by ECHA, and consequently increase the number of restricted substances. Concerns were raised by some HCF speakers, whether this approach to regulate chemicals in groups would lead to omission of the essential uses of some specific chemicals. Time will tell.

PFAS and endocrine disrupters in the spotlight

Special attention is given by the CSS to PFAS and endocrine disruptors (EDs). The aim is to ban the use of PFAS as a group in the EU, unless proven essential for the society. As regards to the EDs, their all non-essential uses will be banned in the consumer products. The discussions are ongoing to introduce a new hazard class on endocrine disruptors in the CLP-regulation, based on the WHO definition, but building on the present criteria currently applied to pesticides and biocides. At the HCF, it was asked whether this new class would effectively be better to be added to the UN’s GHS to avoid the differences.

REACH will be re-opened in 2022

To allow the regulatory changes described by the CSS, the REACH-regulation will be revisited and amended accordingly. Information requirements are expected to increase. The CSS points to the direction to extend the REACH scope to cover certain polymers of concern, such as with CMR or ED properties. Also, information on the overall environmental footprint of the chemicals (e.g., emissions of greenhouse gases) would be required and more information will be needed to enable effective identification of the critical hazards of the substances (e.g., neurological effects).

The future REACH will also require data to enable identification of all carcinogenic substances manufactured or imported into the EU irrespective of their volumes. Furthermore, compliance of all REACH-registration dossiers is required. This is to strengthen the principles of “no data, no market” and the “polluter-pays”. In case of non-compliance, the registration numbers will be revoked. Mixtures of the chemicals will also be introduced in the updated REACH, considering also other relevant legislation. E.g., food additives, food contact materials, water, cosmetics, and detergents. To involve the other regulatory sectors better, one-substance-one-assessment approach will be employed by building the new assessment on the previous assessments of the substance. Finally, the ongoing discussions on the introduction of the worker safety legislation into REACH were further reiterated at the HCF.

This is what we at Ecobio found to be the most relevant discussion points at HCF 2021. Hope you enjoyed the reading. Next HCF will be held in March 2022 and thereafter every second year. You can find the CSS here and the CSS action plan here.

Do you need help with chemical management?

Our experienced chemical consultants will assist you in meeting your chemical requirements. Furthermore, our Ecobio Manager SaaS-service will help you manage your chemicals and ensure compliance with global regulations. Interested? Contact us today!

You can contact us through email at info@ecobio.fi or by phone +358 20 756 9450.

You might be interested in our chemical management webinar on Thursday 6.5.2021

Welcome to our webinar regarding the digital future of chemical management on Thursday the 6th of May 2021. In our webinar our we summarize chemical risks for companies as well as their management in the workplace. Our experts present the most common challenges and digital solutions regarding complying with chemical laws. Additionally we go trough managing the use of chemicals and assessing the risk of chemical exposure. The webinar is held in both Finnish, Swedish, and Norwegian.

Read more and register using the links below:

You can find all of our upcoming and recorded webinars from our webinar library here!

Text: Mari Eskola, Dr, Senior Consultant

Picture: Shutterstock

New in Sustainable Finance

Sustainability runs capital. During the last 10 years the capital in sustainable indexes has doubled. During the last year sustainability indexes that concentrate on environmental (E), social (S) and governance (G) have had higher returns than their non-sustainable competitors both on the European and North American market. As there are several indexes it can be difficult for investors to understand what they contain and how to compare them. The European Union strives to make the indexes more comparable and transparent by creating new directives and therefor creating a stronger and cleaner economy.

EU leads capital towards sustainability

The new laws concerning sustainable finance by the European Union leads towards sustainable investing by a creation of clearer definition of tools and obligations of sustainability reporting and -valuation. To support this, the European Union has published the EU Taxonomy Regulation for sustainable development. The Taxonomy Regulation contains harmonic criteria that define whether the economic activity is sustainable from the nature’s perspective. The classification contains e.g., climate change, water resources, and circular economy. The creation of the taxonomy regulation unites sustainable reporting which makes it easier for investors and other financial actors to make their investment decisions. The classification is new for companies and it is profitable to start preparing for them already now.

Additionally, the European Commission will approve a directive in June 2021 that specifies the reporting among non-financial information. The directive defines how and how widely companies must report according to the above-mentioned Taxonomy Regulation.

The first company- and investment reports in accordance with the new Taxonomy Regulation must be published in the beginning of 2022 about the financial information from 2021.

You might be interested in our webinar recording“New in Sustainable Finance: How to apply EU’s taxonomy regulation and reporting requirements” 

Are you interested in sustainable finance? Are you familiar with the new classifications and reporting requirements in sustainability by EU? Have you wondered how you should prepare to meet the obligations?

Welcome to hear more about sustainable finance, the new obligations and how one should prepare to develop the reports. Our expert will go through EU’s Taxonomy Regulation in our webinar recording.

Read more and watch the webinar here!

Text: Sanna Perkiö

Photo: Shutterstock


Kauppalehti 5.1.2021. ”Vastuullisuus sai vauhtia koronasta”


9th Conference on Biodiversity in Trondheim


The Secretariat of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the UN Environment Program (UNEP) and the Norwegian Government arranges the 9th Conference on Biodiversity in Trondheim, today (Tuesday, July 2). About 450 delegates from 120 countries are expected to attend the conference. Representatives consists mainly of decision-makers and experts. Krista Mikkonen, Minister of the Environment and Climate Change in Finland, is participating in the conference.

Why is the conference held?

“In 2020 (in Kunming, China) the Convention on Biological Diversity will adopt a post-2020 global biodiversity framework as a stepping stone towards the 2050 Vision of “Living in harmony with nature”. This vision was agreed under the CBD in 2010 (in Nagoya, Japan), and reads that the vision is a world of “Living in harmony with nature” where “By 2050, biodiversity is valued, conserved, restored and wisely used, maintaining ecosystem services, sustaining a healthy planet and delivering benefits essential for all people.”

The Conference will address the challenges of achieving the 2050 Vision for Biodiversity and explore pathways for the transformational changes needed. The Trondheim Conferences on Biodiversity have since 1993 created opportunities for increasing understanding amongst stakeholders about issues on the biodiversity agenda.

The 9th Trondheim Conference will bring together decision-makers and experts from around the world to learn about and discuss knowledge and know-how for the global post-2020 biodiversity framework. The Conference will directly support the process established by the Convention on Biological Diversity for preparing this framework, with opportunities for major players to discuss key issues informally outside of the negotiation process.” https://trondheimconference.org/

Follow the live-stream from the conference here

Finland´s EU Presidency and its biodiversity agenda

On Monday (1.7.) Finland begun its six-month stint in the rotating presidency of the European Council.

The top priorities of the Finnish Presidency include strengthening the EU’s position as a global climate leader. According to the Finnish EU Presidency program, sustainability must be a common denominator for all EU action, and the implementation of Agenda 2030 for sustainable development must be ensured both within the Union and beyond. EU should raise its profile as a global climate leader by creating a long-term climate strategy which will help EU become carbon neutral in 2050. Finland will drive the EU Presidency with an ambitious and clear road map to improve biodiversity.

During its presidency, Finland will take steps to implement the UN Convention on Biological Diversity and to promote the sustainable use of natural resources and animal welfare.

Ecobio helps you reach the sustainability goals of your company – we help you balance business and nature.

For further information please get in touch:

Email: info@ecobio.fi

Phone: +358 (0)20 756 9450

The ministry of the Environment wrote about this 


Ecobio’s blog series on climate impacts

Climate change is a hot topic at the moment. Ecobio contributes to climate change mitigation by providing services and taking actions. We help our customers in measuring their impacts on climate and the environment and in finding ways to reduce the impacts, e.g., by establishing a climate or sustainability roadmap in a longer time frame.

Companies contribute to greenhouse gas emissions at varying rates. It can be challenging to comprehend, control and manage the emissions in a large scale. According to the European Environmental Agency, the major sectors producing greenhouse gas emissions are energy supply (30 %), transport (22 %), and industry (20 %). In addition, significant emissions are caused by residential and commercial (13 %) and agriculture (12 %) sectors.

Greenhouse gas emissions by sector in 1990-2016. Source: European Environment Agency (EEA), 2018.

The outcome of the climate change discussion is likely to be more fruitful and effective when it focuses on the positive point of view. Instead of being stuck with negativity, anxiety, or denial of the climate change, it’s more useful to put our efforts into achievable actions that can be done by individuals or companies. One way to start is to evaluate your own carbon footprint by an online calculator or reflect your own actions in various campaigns. At company level, it’s essential to measure and evaluate the caused emissions in order to be able to set relevant goals and to monitor development. It’s typically easier to measure the emissions from company’s own actions but evaluation is also possible regarding the indirect emissions.

Blog series on climate impacts

During summer and autumn 2019, Ecobio’s experts will publish climate-focused blog postings to highlight significant sectors in relation to the climate change. The sectors we discuss in the blog series vary from energy and chemical industry to food production and textiles. We want to share ideas and solutions to reduce the climate and other environmental impacts. While focusing on climate issues, the blog series does not forget other environmental aspects related to the sectors presented.

Stay tuned for upcoming postings! If you have a sector whose emissions you are especially interested, please contact our experts at info@ecobio.fi or tel. +358 20 756 9450.


Team Ecobio acts on climate change

As a celebration of our 30 years of operation, Team Ecobio participated Drawdown EcoChallenge 3-24 April 2019. The impact of our climate actions reached 3 556 pounds of CO2 (1 612 kg of CO2) with 27 participants in our team. Our impact derived from a range of actions, such as 212 meatless or vegan meals consumed, an impressive 503 trees planted*, and 29 plastic containers not sent to the landfill during the challenge.

Globally, the EcoChallenge involved more than 14 000 participants who completed 125 000 actions in 78 countries. The global climate impact of the actions was approximately 345 000 pounds of CO2 (156 tons of CO2). Pretty impressive for only a 3-week project!

What would happen if such actions were done all the time? In one year, the total impact of the Drawdown EcoChallenge participants would be more than 2 700 tons of CO2. That corresponds to driving 23 million kilometres with an average European car (average CO2 emissions 118,5 g/km in new cars registered in 2017)

What are your climate impacts?

To calculate your company’s impacts on climate change and to define a climate roadmap, contact our experts: info@ecobio.fi or tel. +358 20 756 9450.


*Due to the frost in the ground, the trees were ordered during the challenge but will be planted once the ground is sufficiently warm for planting.


Ecobio 30 challenges you to take climate action

This Spring Ecobio celebrates its 30th anniversary as a corporate sustainability service provider.

Inspired by this significant event, we decided to deepen our understanding of the necessary climate actions needed at the individual level. Therefore, we are taking part in the global climate action project, EcoChallenge of Project Drawdown. As the only Finnish participant, we challenge you to join our team now: Ecobio 30 years for sustainability.

Drawdown EcoChallenge is a 21-day engagement program focused on carbon reduction. The challenge takes place April 3-24.

Participants track and share their progress online in a robust platform and earn points for taking action. The combination of collective action, camaraderie, and friendly competition make change a little easier — and a lot more fun. EcoChallenge provides tools and inspiration to turn intention into action and gives participants a fun and social way to think about and act on proven solutions to reverse global warming. Over eighty actions within seven challenge categories provide participants with diverse options to reduce carbon usage.

EcoChallenge is free and open to the public. Participants can join an existing team, create a new one, or join the Community team.

“EcoChallenge is an incredible tool for climate actions from schools to corporations all over the world. It empowers people to learn more.”

– Chad Frischmann, Project Drawdown.

Check out Frischmann’s TED talk “100 solutions to reverse global warming” and join the action!


Summary of the new U.S. Climate Report

The impacts of global climate change have already been felt in the United States. At the end of 2018, the U.S. Government published the national climate report, which dealt with impacts, risks, and adaptation of climate change in the United States. The U.S. Climate Report detailed the measurable implications of global-warming trends upon not only the environment itself but on human health and the American economy. The summary of the findings are presented in the following.

The impacts of climate change are diverse

“Climate change creates new risks and exacerbates existing vulnerabilities in communities across the United States, presenting growing challenges to human health and safety, quality of life, and the rate of economic growth.

Without substantial and sustained global mitigation and regional adaption efforts, climate change is expected to cause growing losses to American infrastructure and property and impede the rate of economic growth over the country.

Climate change affects the natural, built, and social systems we rely on individuals and through their connections to one another. These interconnected systems are increasingly vulnerable to cascading impacts that are often difficult to predict, threatening essential services within and beyond the Nation’s borders.

Communities, governments, and businesses are working to reduce risks from and cost associated with climate change by taking action to lower greenhouse gas emissions and implement adaption strategies. While mitigation and adaptation efforts have expanded substantially in the last four years, they do not yet approach the scale considered necessary to avoid substantial damages to the economy, environment, and human health over the coming decades.

The quality and quantity of water available for use by people and ecosystems across the country are being affected by climate change, increasing risks and costs to agriculture, energy production, industry, recreation, and the environment.

Impacts from climate change on extreme weather and climate-related events, air quality, and the transmission of disease through insects and pests, food, and water increasingly threaten the health and well-being of the American people, particularly populations that are already vulnerable.

Climate change increasingly threatens Indigenous communities’ livelihoods, economies, health, and cultural identities by disrupting interconnected social, physical, and economic systems.”

Ecosystem services continue to be threatened

“Ecosystems and the benefits they provide to society are altered by climate change, and these impacts are projected to continue. Without substantial and sustained reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions, transformative effects on some ecosystems will occur; some coral reef and sea ice ecosystems are already experiencing such changes.

Rising temperature, extreme heat, drought, wildfire on range lands, and torrential downpours are expected to disrupt agricultural productivity in the United States increasingly. Expected increases in challenges to livestock health, the decline in crop yields and quality, and changes in extreme events in the United States and abroad threaten rural livelihoods, sustainable food security, and price stability.

U.S. aging and deteriorating infrastructure in further stressed by increases in heavy precipitation events, coastal flooding, heat, wildfires, and other extreme events, as well as changes to average precipitation and temperature. Without adaption, climate change will continue to degrade infrastructure performance over the rest of the century, with the potential for cascading impacts that threaten our economy, national security, essential services, and health and well-being.

The impacts of climate change increasingly threaten coastal communities and the ecosystems that support them. Without significant reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions and regional adaption measures, many coastal regions will be transformed by the latter part of the century, with impacts affecting other areas and sectors. Even in the future with lower greenhouse gas emissions, many communities are expected to suffer financial impacts as chronic high-tide flooding leads to higher costs and lower property values.

Outdoor recreation, tourist economies, and quality of life are reliant on benefits provided by our natural environment that will be degraded by the impacts of climate change in many ways.”


Source: U.S. Global Change Research Program, The Climate Report, The National Climate Assessment – impacts, risks, and adaptations in the United States, January 2019, Melville House Publishing

Additional information: https://www.globalchange.gov/