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REGIOSTARS Awards 2023 - APPLICATION FORM: Submission #324
  • Welcome page
    A green Europe
  • Basic information
    Innovative management solutions for minimizing emissions of hazardous substances from urban areas
    Only 38% of the EU's surface waters are not polluted with chemicals. Half of the substances polluting our environment come from urban sources. Thus, cities and citizens have a great influence on how to make Europe greener. In our project NonHazCity and its extension, we developed a comprehensive urban detoxification package. Our tailored solutions include chemical action plans for cities, information material for entrepreneurs and training for residents on how to detoxify their homes.

    Where was your project implemented?

    SE104 20
    • Country: Sweden
      Region: Västmanland
      City: Västerås
      Address: Västerås stad, Fiskartorget 1
      Postal code: SE721 87
      Geocode: No
      Latitude: 65.859144
      Longitude: 19.017205
    • Country: Estonia
      Region: Pärnu
      City: Pärnu
      Address: SuurSepa 16,
      Postal code: 80098
      Geocode: No
      Latitude: 58.606599
      Longitude: 24.500761
    • Country: Latvia
      Region: Riga
      City: Riga
      Address: Brīvības iela 49/53
      Postal code: LV-1010
      Geocode: No
      Latitude: 56.9568226
      Longitude: 24.121796
    • Country: Poland
      Region: Pomeranian Voivodeship
      City: Gdansk
      Address: Nowe Ogrody 8/12
      Postal code: 80 803
      Geocode: No
      Latitude: 54.3514419
      Longitude: 18.641021
    • Country: Lithuania
      Region: Kaunas
      City: Kaunas
      Address: Savanoriu prospectus 371
      Postal code: LT49500
      Geocode: No
      Latitude: 54.896296
      Longitude: 23.92186
    • Country: Lithuania
      Region: Samogitia
      City: Šilalė
      Address: J. Basanavičiaus st. 2
      Postal code: LT75138
      Geocode: No
      Latitude: 55.491355
      Longitude: 22.186284
    • Country: Finland
      Region: Southwest Finland
      City: Turku
      Address: PO 355
      Postal code: 20101
      Geocode: No
      Latitude: 60.398454
      Longitude: 22.185732
    • Country: Germany
      Region: Hamburg
      City: Hamburg
      Address: Neuenfelder Straße 19
      Postal code: 21109
      Geocode: No
      Latitude: 53.4977259
      Longitude: 10.0037004
    European Regional Development Fund

    Under which operational programme was the project carried out?

    Interreg Baltic Sea Region

    Please enter your project ID on the Kohesio platform in the space provided below


    When was your project implemented


    Please provide the details of your project's funding


    Please provide the contact details for the project promoter (the organisation implementing the project)

    City of Stockhom
    Head of Chemicals Center of the environmental department
    Fleminggatan 4
    Stockholm, SE104 20
    +46 8 508 289 39

    Please provide the contact details for the managing authority

    Managing Authority / Joint Secretariat of the Interreg Baltic Sea Region Programme
    Director of the Managing Authority and Joint Secretariat
    Grubenstraße 20
    +49 381 454845281
  • Description of the project
    Chemicals are all around us in the environment. Only 38% of the EU's surface waters are not polluted with chemicals.
    So far, most national regulations have been focusing on large industrial emitters. But in fact, 50% of chemicals in the environment come from daily urban life via municipal sewer systems. There are millions of small emitters of hazardous substances, like enterprises, public buildings, households, consumer items.
    We are convinced: Cities can make a real difference in building tox-free environments and therefore a greener Europe. Our project NonHazCity and its extension NonHazCity2 helped cities reduce their toxicity in practice. To achieve this, we developed solutions to address the problem of discharging chemicals already at the source. We’ve brought the different players on board to act: Public administrations, businesses, and private people. And we equipped them with tools that are tailored to their needs.
    We empowered municipalities to develop Chemical Action Plans to reduce harmful chemicals throughout the city. Public procurement is of pivotal importance since municipalities purchase large volumes of products, all of which are potential chemical cocktails. Our chemical smart procurement training programme, published in English and three Baltic languages, helps procurers choose products wiser and contribute to green transformation.
    We worked with enterprises and guided them on how to detoxify offices, hair salons and restaurants. This is how we successfully helped reduce business sources of chemicals.
    And by visiting private households, we educated individuals on how to detoxify their homes and thus reduced the chemical burden in people's everyday environment.
    With NonHazCity, we’ve developed and implemented a comprehensive urban detoxification package that helps achieve the EU’s Green Deal goals of clean water and healthy soil. Many of our approaches are now established procedures in partner cities and have a long-lasting impact.
    Our solutions to reduce hazardous substances (HS) are designed for municipalities, businesses and private people.
    Six partner municipalities developed Chemical Action Plans (CAP), setting goals and strategies to reduce HS in the city. The CAPs became policy documents with high-level commitment to implementation and long-term positive effects, e.g.:
    In Riga (Latvia), HS reduction is of high priority now. The city assigned an employee from the city council to work on the topic.
    In Västerås (Sweden), all new preschools are built now according to the definition of a Non-Toxic preschool. Education on everyday chemical-smart choices is obligatory in secondary upper schools.
    In Hamburg (Germany), chemical criteria got integrated into the procurement guidelines and the topic has received increased attention.
    Turku (Finland) assigned a full time CAP-coordinator. Among other achievements, dredged soil from the port is no longer deposited at sea.
    Our multilingual online course for chemical smart procurement is in active use. It has notably increased the expertise in the field.

    On the household level, we consulted 50 households at recurring home visits . When large quantities of HS were found during the first visit, they had often been replaced before the second visit. Following the success of this method, the German Federal Environment Agency funded the training of 200 volunteer chemical counselors who have made over 1000 home visits to date. Household checks are constantly ongoing. We see that 39% of the visited households replace products with HS.
    On business level, we addressed companies that potentially work with HS without being aware of it. We directly consulted over 40 companies in SE, FI, DE, EE, LT, LV, reached ca. 340 companies with seminars and provided tailored information materials to ca. 3500. The companies applied new measures. For example, as a result of the consultation, a Turku hairdresser reduced the number of chemical products in use by almost 50%
    Our project promoted healthy ecosystems, especially healthy waters in the Baltic Sea region. We are the first project not looking for solutions to reduce chemical inputs into water bodies through downstream wastewater treatment or industry regulation. Convinced that "cities can do more than nations", our innovative approach is to eliminate the sources of chemicals upstream in the cities, at the source.
    We’ve taken an innovative holistic approach to involve public administrations as well as businesses and private individuals. Chemical Action Plans, which were previously only established in Sweden, have been implemented for the first time in Turku, Pärnu, Riga, Šilalė, Kaunas District and Gdansk. For the first time, online training for chemical-smart procurement was developed and established especially for procurers.
    As an innovative method, we have developed household checks, in which we have focused on plastic items, which are often chemical bombs but have never been named as just that. Various behavioral researchers described our method as particularly effective for driving changes in consumption patterns (e.g. Prof. Dr. Peter Fandtke from Technical University of Denmark).
    We were the first to address business people using products that contain chemicals. As end users of products, they often have no knowledge of the ingredients and therefore do not see themselves as part of the chemical problem. For the first time, this unnoticed source of HS was identified and targeted.
    Our solutions and methods are designed for long-term implementation after the end of the project. The costs of running the online course on chemical-smart procurement is now and in future covered by the City of Riga. The revised procurement guidelines (e.g. in Hamburg and Turku) apply beyond the end of the project and have a lasting impact. Many CAPs have goals set for the short medium and long term. E.g. on 1st of June 2023 the city of Turku is organizing a market dialogue with various companies to discuss chemical smart public procurement.

    Further development of the strategies and approaches are pursued, focusing on detoxifying the building sector and others. The method of household checks, invented in NonHazCity, is now an established method. Volunteer chemical ambassadors were trained to promote household detoxification independently and without further funding. The method has been applied in Germany and is now being expanded throughout Europe in the recently started LIFE ChemBee project. All chemical ambassadors will continue their mission after the project period.

    In summary: With our NonHazCity initiative, we continue to draw attention to the problem of hazardous substances in urban environments. Today, we are reaching out to an increasing number of actors from public authorities, businesses and households, who are making their contribution to detoxifying cities on a permanent basis (with own funds) or as part of follow-up projects.
    We involved 15.000+ people face-to-face and reached further 150.000+ people on social media during campaigns, including seminars in schools and street festivals. We provided citizens with info-material on chemicals in homes, offices or food contact materials (over 19,000 distributed copies of brochures). In Turku (Finland), we sent tips on chemical-free homes in the magazine Turkuposti to 121,400 households. In Poland, we organized music competitions on the topic of chemicals in everyday life.

    With our household checks, we visited 50 private households in PL, DE, EE, LT, LV, SE. The success in raising awareness and the acceptance of the offer were enormous. So we developed a training concept for chemical ambassadors. Any citizen can take part in our free training and then offer household checks on their own. With the help of the browser-based app Check(ED), developed in the project, every citizen can quickly obtain an assessment of personal exposure to hormone-disrupting chemicals.
    All our results can be transferred to other regions. It is happening already.
    The info-materials are available in various languages and can be translated to others. The online training on chemical-smart procurement will be translated and rolled out to Germany and Denmark.
    The umbrella organisation of the company health insurance funds in Germany (BKK) became aware of our project and will soon publish an article on it. The reach includes 10 million potential readers.
    New municipalities (Helsinki, Tallinn, Holbaek) are interested in the topic and joined the NonHazCity3 project.
    The concept of household checks by chemical counselors is going on independently of any project funding in Germany and is being extended to GR, PT, FR, AT, FI, PL, SE, CZ via the LIFE ChemBee project.
    The NonHazCity idea has gained EU-wide attention. The project was presented at the EU Parliament in April 2023. Various French cities (e.g. Lyon, Nice, Strasbourg) are now interested in adopting our solutions.