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Comparing chemicals and materials - with focus on toxicity

As an organization, it can be difficult to know whether you are making better or worse choices in the green transition. What is a more sustainable alternative? We can help you by categorizing chemicals and materials based on their impact on the sustainability goal: non-toxic environment.


Avoid the pitfalls of choosing hazardous alternatives

There are several reforms underway within the EU's Green Deal to speed up a fair transition to a climate-neutral, circular economy whilte protecting biodiversity and reach a non-toxic environment. Part of the transition means that we need to look for alternative ways to produce and manufacture chemicals, materials, and goods - but how do we know if we are choosing genuinely better alternatives?

How can we help you?

We can help you by obtaining data and categorizing the hazard of chemicals from "Avoid" to "Safer". We use the EU's criteria for safe and sustainable design, which are under development within the EU's chemicals strategy for sustainability (2020). You can use the data and guidance to understand trade offs and risks for alternatives - before it's too late. Our method for chemical safety can be combined with life cycle analysis to also understand climate impact of different choices.


Alternatives assessment - A method for scientifically comparing alternatives

We use the Alternatives Assessment method developed to manage "regrettable substitution". Regrettable substitution means choosing an alternative which is as hazardous as the chemical/material you want to replace. A well-known example is bisphenol A, a common plastic chemical with endocrine-disrupting properties. 

The most common substitute for Bisphenol A is Bisphenol S. A chemical that can also cause endocrine disruption. Another example of regrettable substitution is when a substitution transfers the risk to another part of the life cycle. For example a chemical is substituted to protect consumers, but introduces an unacceptable risk for occuptiontal health instead. To avoid this risk, we assess alternatives for many health hazards.

How do we compare chemicals?

We use criteria from the EU's current version of the "Safe and sustainable by design" framework" (SSbD) (2022). The method involves collecting information on legislation, hazard classifications according to CLP and voluntary Substitution Lists. We also make sure to check for data gaps on hazard. Lack of data can give a first impression that an alternative is safe. But no data does not mean an alternative is safe, just that it needs more testing. 

We can adapt the assessment depending on your need and budget. We suggest that we start by screening each chemical for legislation, two voluntary restriction lists and approximately 20 hazard classifications. 

Extend the sustainability scope

Do you want to include other important aspects for your green transition? Alternatives assessment is a method to compare and choose safer alternatives while including function, climate, and economy. We have colleagues that know life cycle analysis, materials, technoeconomy, circular economy, etc. We can involve them in the assessment and tailor it to your needs.


The basis for making informed decisions

You will receive a summary in an Excel sheet based on the agreement. Listed below are examples of what type of information the summary can contain. The delivery comes with a walk-through of the documentation and guidance going forward. We can also prepare presentation material if necessary.

The chemical with associated CAS number is categorized according to the EU's SSbD criteria (2022 v.1):

  • Cut-off criteria: Most harmful substance, corresponds to Particularly hazardous substances (SVHC). These substances cannot be considered safe and should be phased out as much as possible.
  • Safety level 1: Substances of concern, substances with serious properties that should be replaced by safer alternatives.
  • Safety level 2: Other hazard classes, substances with "less potent" hazard classifications. The risk can be managed through exposure. 
  • Safety level 3: Safer alternatives

Examples of legislation or restricted lists:

  • EU REACH regulation
  • POPs Regulation
  • Chemsec SIN list
  • The Swedish Chemicals Agency's PRIO - a tool for substitution

Data gap

  • Flag if the substance is not registered according to REACH
  • Flag if REACH dossier lacks important data for cut-off criteria/most harmful substances and may be a regrettable substitute.
  • Opportunities to follow-up with data modeling to fill data gaps.
  • Opportunities to follow-up with in-depth literature study.
  • Opportunities to follow-up with toxicity tests. 

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Alternatives Assessment - method for comparing chemicals/materials with focus on toxicity

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Price on tender


  • For chemicals, we need identification names or numbers such as CAS number, EC number, InChi, SMILES, etc.
  • Associated Chemical Safety Data Sheets (SDS) if available.
  • For materials: A composition list with information on chemical content including identification names or numbers. 

Supports the UN sustainability goals

3. Good health and well-being
6. Clean water and sanitation
9. Industry, innovation and infrastructure
12. Responsible consumption and production
14. Life below water
Nina Melander

Contact person

Nina Melander

Rådgivare Substitutionscentrum

+46 10 516 52 16

Read more about Nina

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