The continuous development of new products, changing consumption behaviours, and industry’s adaptation to updated chemical regulations constantly changes the load and composition of chemical mixtures transferred from land to sea.

More and more consumer articles contain complex mixtures of chemicals that potentially end up in the Baltic Sea. Emissions of chemicals may occur throughout the entire life cycle of a consumer article, from the production to the waste phase, but in many cases, the dominant source is diffuse emissions during the use phase of articles in society. These chemicals reach the sea via, for instance, wastewater treatment plants and the air.


Policy recommendations

  • At EU level, continue the development of harmonised tools across sectors to track chemical composition of products throughout the supply chain, including imported and recycled articles.
  • Establish a system to disclose chemical content in articles to authorities, researchers, and the general public in order to help identification of new environmental contaminants and to fulfil the consumers’ right-to-know. To ensure that confidential business information stays protected, the data could, if needed, be made available in an aggregated way.
  • Introduce labelling of articles containing substances that are identified by the EU as being of Very High Concern (SVHCs) in order to enable consumers to make informed choices.
  • Legally oblige suppliers and companies to grant authorities responsible for the management of chemicals (e.g. ECHA) full access to chemical composition data of articles which, in the long run, will assist the circular economy and reduce emissions of hazardous chemicals to the environment. Non-disclosure agreements can be used to ensure confidentiality for businesses.
  • Strengthen international-level support and involvement, such as in SAICM and the Alliance for High Ambition on chemicals and waste, striving towards harmonisation of chemical regulations.


Read and download: 

Policy brief: Chemicals in articles (545 Kb)

Policy Brief: Chemicals in consumer articles with references (2494 Kb)




Emma Undeman

Environmental chemist, Baltic Eye, Baltic Sea Centre
+46 (0)8 16 34 26, emma.undeman@su.se