The German Environment Agency (UBA) has released a position paper on Advanced Materials - Cornerstones for a Safe and Sustainable Life Cycle.

The document lays out and discusses the challenges posed by the complexity of the safety and sustainability aspects related to the development and use of advanced materials. It starts from the premise that trade-offs could occur between the promising sustainable applications of advanced materials and their potential safety risks, and that environmental and health protection considerations should prevail on other dimensions of sustainability.

The paper examines selected key areas of sustainable transformation such as climate, energy, and transport, and describes examples of conflicting goals which can arise from those trade-offs. It also proposes solutions to address them from an early development stage; these "cornerstones" include:

  • The establishment of early warning systems for the timely identification of advanced materials of concern;
  • The strengthening of existing approaches for green and sustainable chemistry;
  • A European Test Guidelines Strategy to support the development of methods such as the OECD Test Guidelines and Guidance Documents which are needed for an adequate assessment of advanced materials for regulatory purposes;
  • Capacity building at the level of the education system for the future developers of advanced materials to be able to appropriately take into account safety and sustainability in their innovation processes.

The full document can be consulted at this link.