Abstract: The number of new synthesized chemicals is growing exponentially, proving that there is a well functioning system for developing and producing new chemicals. At the same time, full information and knowledge regarding the potential hazardous effects of majority of chemicals on human and environmental health is lacking. This uncertainty together with growing negative consequences indicates that there is no well functioning system for safe chemicals management.
Using three case studies of chemicals (PCB, HBCD and Bisphenol-A), this study examines the previous and emerging EU chemical management regimes under conditions of uncertainty. Further, the article analyses the EU chemical management regimes by applying a degrowth ideas in order to criticize existing practices but also to discuss alternative approaches of chemicals management development.
We argue that de-growth ideas can help to develop an alternative path. In addition to highly discussed management options under condition of uncertainty (such as precautionary, adaptive management and so on), we argue that the management of chemicals might also benefit from introducing ―sufficiency into production. In more general sense it means a shift of seeing quality of life as based on a sufficiency of chemicals and not on an abundance of them. The article concludes that although utopian ideas regarding chemicals management might be very problematic, more integrated and holistic visions of future chemicals and also environmental policies might emerge from consideration of such ideas.
Contribution to the 3rd International Degrowth Conference for Ecological Sustainability and Social Equity in Venice in 2012.