Circularity & Sustainability

The European Commission adopted a new Circular Economy Action Plan in November 2020 announcing initiatives along the entire life cycle of products, targeting for example their design, promoting circular economy processes, fostering sustainable consumption, and aiming to ensure that the resources used are kept in the EU economy for as long as possible.

We believe that circular economy is an opportunity to promote innovation and further reduce the environmental impact of solvents. Our shared goal with regulators is to support members to make better use of solvents and solvent-based products throughout their entire life-cycle.

Our industry has made significant investments to improve the overall sustainability profile of solvents. By making our products and processes highly efficient, we have significantly reduced the amount of solvent used in finished products today. We have also made real progress in managing solvent emissions under the existing legislative framework. One of our main purposes as an organisation remains to promote best practices, especially related to sustainability, at the industry level and among downstream users.

Realising the circular economy means making products that are more durable, strong and energy efficient. Solvents are playing an important role in this transition.

Solvent-based adhesives used during manufacturing extend the life of products as diverse as cars to shoes.

Solvents make critical infrastructure like bridges and dams last with protective coatings that prevent corrosion and rust.

Solvents evaporate faster than other solutions, resulting in higher productivity and less energy use.

Solvents used to spray electrostatic paint reduce the amount of paint required and waste too.

Several models and approaches exist and the Commission is evaluating what would be the best way forward to avoid green washing.

The Commission together with the Joint Research Centre and other European Commission services have been working since 2013 towards the development of a harmonised methodology for the calculation of the environmental footprint of products and organisations.

ESIG has been collecting data to develop life-cycle inventories for standard solvent products to facilitate the calculation of PEFs or OEFs and assure that a solid LCA data base for solvent raw materials is available

Ecolabels are meant to help consumers to identify products with less environmental impact throughout their lifecycle. The EU Ecolabel is a voluntary labelling scheme which promotes environmental excellence across an array of sectors and is used in deriving the – again voluntary – Green Public Procurement Criteria which can be used by Europe’s public authorities. In applying GPP criteria when using their purchasing power to choose environmentally friendly goods, services and works, they can make an important contribution to sustainable consumption and production.

Being an observer in the EU Ecolabel Board, ESIG is working with European policymakers and other stakeholders to bring the ecolabel process into line with sound, evidence-based science that can be applied to all solvents.

Bio based is not the same as sustainable but both can overlap or complement each other in places. Nevertheless, bio-based solvents derived from corn, soybeans and other renewable materials are an emerging class of solvents.

Our members contributed to the standardisation process at the European level, working with policymakers and other stakeholders to develop evidence-based frameworks firmly rooted in science. The European Committee for Standardization (CEN) published the first product standard for bio-based materials (EN16766:2017: Bio-based solvents – Requirements and test) on 1st November 2017. Each country taking part in the CEN had to implement it at national level by publishing an identical national standard or by endorsement by May 2018.

ESIG convened the related working group in the CEN Technical Committee 411, whose objective is to develop standards for bio-based products covering horizontal aspects.

The European Commission, which financially supported the development, strongly encourages public procurers and industry to use this standard and its referenced test methods for biological content and sustainability.