About the study

Within our research project Realizing a non toxic circular economy , several studies are carried out. This study explores definitions and strategies for contributing to a “non toxic” circular economy, focusing on consumer electronics. Our ambition is to map out how companies throughout the consumer electronic value chain (producers, procurers, actors in reuse, refurbish, repair and recyclers) define “non toxic” what substances, groups of substances or properties that are considered to be include d in such a

concept. We will also investigate strategies and approaches that companies apply to this area of work. This, in turn, is comp are d with the definitions used and strategies implied in the developing body of policies and legislation. The overall objective is to provide insights regarding how the consumer electronics industry define and approach the concept of a non toxic circular economy. Based on this, the ambition is to provide recommendations on potential needed clarification of this concept, informing the vivid policy development currently underway in the European union.

The EU’s circular economy action plan points out electronics as one of the key product value chains for the transition to a circular economy. Within the sector, a review of EU restrictions to hazardous substances has been a particularly highlighted action. A range of policies, pertaining to a toxic free environment and circular economy, are currently developing at the EU level. Thes e include the new Chemicals Strategy, an updated Ecodesign Regulation (including the development of digital products passports), a new Restrictions Roadmap and a Safe and Sustainable by Design framework, to name a few. Based on this changing and complex policy environment we see a need to clarify how companies navigate towards a circular economy.


The realization of a circular economy has become a focus in the EU and other countries to move towards sustainable use of resources. This is a necessary transformation to meet the current environmental and climate challenges. However, one important, but often disregarded part of a circular economy is the role of hazardous chemicals. Hazardous chemicals are used in everyday products and when recycled the new products will inevitably contain these chemicals. This research project aims to address ch emi cal management in relation to the notion of a non toxic circular economy. Our research will result in analyses of importance for decisionmakers developing and deciding on risk management measures, as well as legal tools for management of hazardous chemicals in recycled materials with the following research questions.
1. What are the current conflicts and synergies in chemical management with regards to the goal of a
nontoxic circular economy?
2.How can conflicts be overcome and how can synergies be utilized for a faster and more efficient transition to a non toxic circul ar economy?
Based on this changing and complex policy environment we see a need to clarify how companies navigate towards a circular economy.

Research Partners

Stockholm University (department of Environmental Science), together with Uppsala University and sustainability consultancy Trossa, are carrying out parallel studies within the research project “Realizing a non toxic circular economy”. The project is f unded by Formas , Sweden’s government research council for sustainable development. More information about the research partners here: Department of Environmental Science Stockholm University, Företagsekonomiska institutionen Uppsala universitet and Trossa AB

Research funding