Hazardous substances in plastics – ways to increase recycling

The aim of this project is to create a knowledge base on how plastics recycling can increase without increasing the risk of emitting hazardous substances in the environment.


This project is a part of the Nordic Council of Ministers’ initiative “Green growth” and a continuation of the previous three projects on plastics recycling (“Future solutions for Nordic plastic recycling”, “Plastic sorting at recycling centres” and “Nordic plastic value chains – case WEEE”). In all these reports the content of hazardous substances was mentioned as an obstacle for increased plastics recycling. The project is also in line with EU’s aim for increased plastics recycling and the package on circular economy.

In modern society we use plastic polymers in many different applications. To make the polymers fit our needs, we give them desirable properties by the use of added substances. Therefore, plastic products, like all other products and materials, contain a broad range of substances. The substances, or additives, can for example be flame retardants, pigments, fillers, UV-chemicals, plasticizers and stabilisers that are used to improve the properties of the plastics and reduce costs. The global production of additives is around 13 million tonnes, and the demand is forecasted to increase in the years to come. The global consumption.

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