The substitution of substances of very high concern (SVHC) in REACH by safe biobased alternatives is an important topic for RIVM. We also use this concept to focus in general on safe(r) products build from renewable feed stocks.
RIVM looks at safety and sustainability aspects, but also at the social perception around the application of genetically modified organisms (GMO) and synthetic biology in biobased chemistry.
Biobased processes and products are not a priori sustainable and safe. We look at the environmental impact of the variety of biobased processes and products, realizing that the biobased process technology needs time to optimize. We study, amongst others, the health effects of biofuels, but we also focus on the integration of environmental impact assessment of biobased chemicals into REACH.
We are currently working with several partners on the building of a decision making tool for chemicals along their life cycle, weighing not only sustainability, but also safety and socio-economic factors . The outcomes can be used for many purposes, ranging from spatial planning issues to further guidance for the socio-economic analysis (SEA) in REACH.
RIVM works on the 'safe innovation' concept. Our role is to participate early in the R&D phase to ensure that safety and sustainability aspects are being covered adequately. Great ideas shouldn’t stop because of unexpected legal obligations when upscaling. Example: European project NCC Foam.
RIVM is studying on building concepts for selecting the most valuable and sustainable routes for using renewable biomass as feedstock for the production of chemicals and materials or energy.
RIVM advices companies and institutes on environmental permits, legal obligations, etc. in biobased chemistry, in particular related to REACH and synthetic biology/GMO. Daily practice signals can be the input for our policy advice and for general solutions for unnecessary bottlenecks in biobased production chains.