Companies need to improve information about hazardous chemicals to consumers - Chemicals In Our Life

Companies need to improve information about hazardous chemicals to consumers

An EU enforcement project shows that companies are not providing consumers with sufficient information about substances of very high concern in products.

An enforcement project that inspected 405 companies across the EU, shows that more than half of companies selling products that contain substances of very high concern directly to consumers, did not provide the required information about these subtstances to the consumers when requested.

12 % of all the inspected 682 products contained substances from the Candidate List of substances of very high concern. Currently, this list includes 201 substances and is regularly updated.  

Right to ask

As a consumer, you have the right to ask if the products you buy contain substances of very high concern above a certain limit, i.e. substances that could be harmful to your health or to the environment. Companies have to give you the information that is essential for you to use the products safely. By law, suppliers have to give you this information within 45 days of your request. When products are sold between companies, the same information has to be always given, without a specific request.

In almost all of the inspected cases, only the name of the substance was available to  consumers. While this  is the absolute minimum, in many cases, information about how to safely handle the product also needs to be provided.

“Almost 90 % of the inspected products do not contain substances of very high concern above the limit, which is good news for the European consumer. That said, we would like to see that number to be even higher. Companies also need to make sure that information about the substances is available and improve how they communicate about it with each other. Consumers have a right to get the information and industry has an obligation to provide it when requested,” says Erwin Annys, Head of ECHA’s Support and Enforcement Unit.

Improve communication

Inspectors already had an idea where to look and checked products that they suspected would contain the substances of very high concern. These substances were found in clothing, footwear and home textiles; wires, cables and electronic accessories; plastic or textile floorings; wall coverings and other plastic and rubber products.  

Based on the results, inspectors recommend companies to improve their communication in the supply chain and invest in tracking and information tools.

The Enforcement Forum continues to coordinate these enforcement projects to protect the EU citizen from hazardous chemicals and ensure safe use of the products we buy.

About the Forum

The authorities in the EU work together to enforce the European chemical regulations REACH, CLP, BPR, PIC and POPs. This cooperation is led by the Forum for Exchange of Information on Enforcement, which carries out several projects like this every year.