PlastChem project

State of the science on plastic chemicals: Identifying and addressing chemicals and polymers of concern

Norwegian Research Council (project no. 341954)
NTNU (coordinator)
Empa (CH)
Food Packaging Forum (CH)
Runtime: 2023–2024
Budget: NOK 2.2m

Project summary

The PlastChem project aims to address the fragmented understanding of the chemicals in plastics and their impact on health and the environment. This initiative will create a high-quality, comprehensive state-of-the-science report synthesizing the evidence about chemicals in plastics to inform an evidence-based policy development for better protecting public health and the environment.

Objectives of the PlastChem project include:

  • Compiling a thorough overview of all known plastic chemicals.
  • Identifying plastic chemicals of concern and linking them to specific polymers.
  • Prioritizing plastic chemicals based on hazard, and other scientific, regulatory, and market data.
  • Synthesizing scientific evidence to guide informed policy development.

Key activities of the project include consolidating data on over 15 000 plastic chemicals from various sources, compiling hazard and other information, and identifying and prioritizing plastic chemicals and polymers of concern. The evidence will be compiled in the publicly available PlastChem database. A unique feature of the project is its focus on groups of chemicals, linking chemicals of concern to plastics and integrating leachate toxicity to cover unknown chemicals and their joint effects. This comprehensive analysis will help prioritizing chemicals and polymers of concern and is critical for a circular economy.

The project’s collaborative approach, involving an advisory board and regulatory experts, ensures that the outcomes are aligned with policy needs. The final report and database will serve as key resources for developing policies that support a non-toxic environment, aligning with the global plastic treaty goals.