Men removing PCBs from barrels

Chemicals and Waste

Chemicals are an essential part of modern society with positive impacts on employment, economic growth, health, environment, and the climate. However, if they are not managed properly, they can adversely affect human health and the environment. Estimated 40 to 60 thousand industrial chemicals are marketed worldwide, meaning that hazardous chemicals, products containing them, their hazardous wastes and related pollutants continue to be released and disposed of in ever-larger quantities.

Most products contain a large variety of chemicals. The use of chemicals of concern can create serious health and environmental impacts during the manufacturing, use and disposal of products. This use also makes it very difficult, if not impossible, to recycle products and their materials. To move from the current unsustainable, linear take-make-dispose production and consumption system to a circular economy, chemicals of concern must be phased out.

The sound management of chemicals and waste has important gender implications. Men, women and children are exposed to chemicals in different ways, and this exposure causes different biological responses. For example, in agricultural communities in developing countries, men may be at higher risk of direct exposure to chemical pesticides during their application, while women (and sometimes children) may be more likely to be indirectly exposed during planting and harvesting.

UNDP supports the efforts of developing countries towards sound management of chemicals and waste and to shift to a circular economy that eliminates waste and pollution, maintains the use of products and materials for longer periods, regenerates natural systems.