1.6 Environmental health and occupational safety in the bioeconomy

Bioeconomy products and raw materials are organic material. In certain circumstances, environmental health and occupational safety aspects should be taken into account in their handling. As the circular economy becomes stronger, the processing, storage and recycling of organic, biological raw materials will increase.  Their properties change during biomaterial cycles, and new components are combined with their composition during use and handling.

As the bioeconomy develops, not only the working and storage conditions require attention but also the safety of end products (e.g. heavy metals, pharmaceuticals, organic pollutants) before they are introduced as either new or recycled materials.

The disposal of organic waste in landfills was prohibited in 2016. Numerous national strategies and EU directives include targets for the treatment of biodegradable waste fractions in ways other than incineration. In Finland, the permits and regulations related to occupational safety and health and the handling of chemicals are of a high standard. Innovations and products must be examined from the safety perspective as early on as possible. Environmental health and occupational safety and health are cross-cutting themes that are not examined in more detail in this strategy, but this perspective should be kept at the forefront to facilitate continuous support for the acceptability of bioeconomy products and activities.