The Earth's surface is limited, raw materials can be depleted, and the Earth as well as its atmosphere do not have an unlimited absorption capacity. In order to maintain a good living environment and our level of prosperity, we must ensure that ecosystems function effectively and that resources and raw materials are continually recycled. To that end, we need to encourage innovation and the development of new technologies. RIVM uses its knowledge base to contribute to the transition to a sustainable society. The focus in this regard is on four topics.
The depletion of oil reserves, climate change and dependency on politically unstable regions are all drivers for seeking alternatives to fossil based resources. In a bio-based economy, renewable resources come from nature. This includes plants such as algae, crop residues, as well as slaughterhouse waste and other types of biomass. This biomass can be converted for applications in the chemical industry by biorefining or used for bioenergy production, such as biogas. RIVM is studying how bio-based economy can contribute to a cleaner and safer environment and an improved public health.
Hugo de Jonge, Dutch Minister of Health, Welfare and Sport, marked the official start of construction on the new accommodations for RIVM and for the Medicines Evaluation Board (CBG). Accompanied by André van der Zande (RIVM), Ton de Boer (CBG), Roger Mol (Central Government Real Estate Agency) and Gerard Sanderink (Strukton), he oversaw insertion of one of the first pilings to be bored for the tower. The 73 bored pilings under the tower are 1.85 metres in diameter and nearly 58 metres long. The size of the pilings is just one of the technological solutions that ensure the building will meet the vibration resistance requirements for the laboratories. The new building will rise from the ground on the Helsinkilaan in the Utrecht Science Park (USP) and is expected to become available in autumn 2021.
Approximately 79 percent of the nature reserves (Natura 2000 areas) in EU countries are estimated to be exposed to an excess of nitrogen deposition in 2020. This is one of the conclusions from the final 2017 report of the Coordination Center for Effects (CCE). The calculations are used to assess sources of air pollution and impacts on biodiversity and soil. This year, for the first time in Europe, the CCE charted whether the probability of occurrence of specific plant species is affected due to too much nitrogen or acidification.
On 14 June 2017, the European Commission launched the “European Union Observatory for Nanomaterials” (EUON). As registration is not mandatory, the EUON is limited in detailed information. Consequently, RIVM expects EUON's contribution to reducing the uncertainty regarding the safety of nanomaterials to be limited. That is the conclusion of the RIVM analysis ‘The European Union Observatory for Nanomaterials – a step forward?’
There are a number of promising biobased alternatives to controversial polar aprotic solvents, as revealed in a report from Wageningen Food & Biobased Research commissioned by RIVM. A safe alternative may arise for DMAc, one of these solvents. DMAc received negative news coverage just last year for possible involvement in causing fertility issues among the female employees at the DuPont/Chemours chemical plant.