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Implementation agency: UNDP and Implementing Partner: Ministry of Environment and Physical Planning - POPs Unit

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SAICM Project in Macedonia - “Mainstreaming SMC Considerations into MDG Based National Development Planning”

The sound management of chemicals in brief

The core objective of the sound management of chemicals

The objective of the sound management of chemicals is to apply managerial best practices to chemicals throughout their life cycle to prevent, and, where this is not possible, to reduce or minimize the potential for exposure of people and the environment to toxic and hazardous chemicals (i.e. through polluting emissions, use, disposal, etc.). This requires strengthened governance, and improved techniques and technologies in the production, use, storage, and disposal or recovery of chemicals.

The term life cycle originates with a methodology initially introduced in the 1970s, life-cycle assessment (LCA), which evaluates affects upon the environment and human health of a chemical substance from the moment of its extraction from the earth until the return of the substance to the ecosystem in an environmentally sound manner. This cycle has, in turn, been characterized as “cradle-to-grave” with disposal (e.g., in a landfill) or destruction of a substance considered the “end” of the life cycle. A recent modification of this concept proposes that chemicals and the products and articles into which they are incorporated should be fully degradable or designed such that their constituent parts can be recovered and/or returned to a natural state after use or, at end use, be fully recyclable as an industrial feedstock to produce new products, thereby avoiding or preventing generation of wastes. Wastes are a by-product of materials acquisition and material and product manufacture, use, land filling or incineration. The cradle-to-cradle model seeks to minimize or avoid permanent loss of materials and generation of wastes.

To be effective, SMC initiatives should be applied broadly to include not only the chemical products and polluting emissions of factories that manufacture chemicals but also the full value-chain, which includes other chemical products and goods that are produced using basic chemicals or other “downstream” industrial consumers of chemicals, inclusive of formulators, distributors and retailers of chemicals.