BLOG TOPIC: Flint Group and the European Commission’s Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability (CSS)

At Flint Group, as a strong advocate for ethical and sustainable practices, we continue to prioritise the well-being of both people and the planet. 

Demonstrating this commitment, we actively support and align the business to the European Commission's Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability, or CSS.

The CSS is a component of the EU Green Deal, a set of policy structures and initiatives that seek to protect the natural world and reduce the environmental impact of business. Looking to accelerate the pace of change across Europe, this strategy aims to bring more order, structure and safety to the chemical industry, which includes printing ink suppliers.

A seismic change in sustainable chemistry

The European Commission's Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability represents a paradigm shift in how chemicals are produced, used, and regulated.

Introduced in October 2020, this ambitious strategy seeks to protect human health and the environment while fostering innovation and circular economy principles. As the wider world of modern industry moves towards circularity and optimal use of natural resources, the CSS aims to speed up the transition to sustainable chemicals by using tighter and more precise hazard classification methods and promoting safer, more sustainable alternatives.

Through comprehensive policy measures, the strategy aims to address the challenges posed by hazardous substances at every point of the supply chain, including handling by supply chain operatives and any potentially harmful chemicals that remain in consumer products. By embracing this strategy and being considerably ahead of the curve regarding chemical safety, Flint Group demonstrates its proactive approach towards sustainability and aligns with the European Commission's vision for a safer and more sustainable future.

Key elements of the CSS
The European Commission's Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability introduces a range of policy changes and sets ambitious goals to protect human health and the environment from harmful chemicals.

Although the CSS covers many topics, the following key areas are of particular interest in the ink sector:

  • Ensuring the most harmful chemicals are not in consumer and professional products
    The CSS aims to ban the most hazardous chemicals in consumer and professional products, safeguarding the well-being of individuals and the environment. Flint Group has a raw material approval process to ensure that banned chemicals will not be used in our inks.

  • New hazard classes - endocrine disruptors and persistent and mobile substances
    The CSS highlights the need to readdress hazard classes accordingly to improve human health and the environment. The European Commission introduced new hazard classes to capture and regulate substances with endocrine-disrupting and persistent and mobile properties, which could pose significant risks to human health and the ecosystem. This also includes expanding the SVHC (Substances of Very High Concern) category. Flint Group has checked and will continue to review its ink formulations against the criteria of the new hazard classes and take the necessary steps to ensure that their inks can be safely used across the supply chain.

  • Phasing out the use of per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS) for non-essential uses
    PFAS, often referred to as 'forever chemicals, ' are known for their persistence and potential adverse effects. Under the CSS strategy, these will be phased out for non-essential applications to minimise their environmental presence and reduce associated risks. Flint Group has implemented an action programme to phase out the use of PFAS raw materials globally. This programme is near completion, where the inks based on PFAS raw materials have been reformulated to remove these materials.

  • Chemicals and the Circular Economy
    Through the CSS, the European Commission's strategy highlights the importance of transitioning towards a circular economy, where resources are used efficiently and waste is minimised. As recycling can be hampered by certain substances that are harmful or prevent recycling, Flint Group participates in initiatives to ensure and increase proper recycling of packaging materials in general and food contact materials.

  • One Substance, One Assessment (OSOA)
    The European Commission has launched the OSOA initiative to improve the effectiveness, efficiency and coherence of the safety assessment of chemicals across chemicals legislation. Flint Group welcomes this initiative as it will lead to more transparency and avoid contradicting outcomes of evaluations performed under different (sectoral) legislation. Flint Group already has a risk assessment for substances used in food contact applications and a communication protocol enabling downstream users to perform their own risk assessment.

  • Safe and sustainable by design
    The European Commission developed a 'safe and sustainable by design' framework to encourage innovation by replacing the most harmful substances in products and processes and optimising or redesigning production processes for producing alternatives. This enables companies, including Flint Group, to invest in research and development to provide safe and sustainable solutions to printing customers.

Flint Group supports this transition as a responsible industry player by embracing sustainable practices in its operations and proactively exploring low-impact chemistries in its ink and coating range. Ultimately, Flint Group aims to be the most ethical, responsible and sustainable business of its kind, in addition to its reputation as a leader in quality.

Seen through our movement towards alternative and renewable ink and coating feedstock innovation in products such as TerraCode, our approach to sustainability also includes reducing the use of hazardous substances overall, promoting environmentally sound design principles to our customers and stakeholders, and using our market position to advance recycling and recovery methods.

Therefore, we see an important relationship between sustainability and regulatory topics.  This consideration plays a strong part in formulating products for the main packaging markets we serve.

Flexible Packaging

Flint Group is addressing the needs of Flexible Packaging printers from barrier coatings for mon-materials, to NC-free solutions and sustainable ink systems.

Paper & Board

Technology designed to create more sustainable packaging such as barrier coatings to enable paper packaging to enter new markets, inks designed using sustainable raw materials and for compostability.

Narrow Web

Washable and non-washable ink & coating technology to improve the recyclability of labels, UV LED Dual Cure inks and coatings, and inks for printing on recyclable mono-materials.

Offset Packaging

New technology to reduce the environmental impact of inks, such as inks free of petrochemicals and higher levels of renewable content, UV LED inks and coatings and low odour and low migration technologies.

Flint Group also offers a selection of inks & coatings that are Material Health Certified by the Cradle-to-Cradle Products Innovation Institute.

By powering the drive towards a circular economy and actively reducing chemical hazards in printing at Flint Group, we are reducing our environmental footprint and contributing to developing a more sustainable and resource-efficient future.

In conclusion

In combination with our multi-fronted PRISM approach to business-wide Environmental and Social Governance (ESG), our alignment with the European Commission's Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability actively promotes the health and well-being of individuals, advances environmental protection, drives innovation, and contributes to the development of a circular economy in printing inks.

Through our CSS alignment and beyond, at Flint Group, we understand our responsibility as a global printing inks and coating leader and aim to play our part in creating a more sustainable future for all.


For further information about Flint Group, our products, or our Sustainability and Regulatory platforms, please email, or visit the news & blog section of our website here.