Substances of very high concern (SVHC) can hamper the safe recycling of waste streams in the Netherlands. These substances occur in a wide range of waste streams. Examples are flame retardants in plastics, dyes in textile or heavy metals in residual streams of agriculture. These are the findings of an exploratory study by RIVM.

The Dutch government takes priority action on SVHC substances as they are hazardous to humans and the environment. Examples include substances that are carcinogenic, impede reproduction, or bio accumulate in food chains. SVHC may be present in waste streams as they are intentionally used in the original processes or products, or they can be contaminants.

It is difficult to obtain a complete overview of SVHC in waste streams because information is often lacking on the actual SVHC concentrations in waste. RIVM makes recommendations with respect to prioritization of SVHC and waste streams. In addition, RIVM advises to develop a decision scheme to select the most appropriate waste treatment options.

The Netherlands circular

The Dutch governmental programme  ‘The Netherlands circular in 2050’ appoints five priority chains and sectors in the transition towards a circular economy: biomass and food, plastics, production/manufacturing, construction, and consumer products. RIVM investigated to what extent dominant waste streams in these chains and sectors contain SVHC.

The results of this study are useful for the implementation of the National Waste Management Plan (LAP) that is focusing on risk control. The long term ambition should be to develop safer alternatives for SVHC resulting in safe loops, irrespective of the types of end-use.

In addition to this exploratory study, RIVM has derived concentration limits for ZZS in waste streams.