Does it contain hazardous chemicals? You’ll find out soon

News 2018 / August

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Does it contain hazardous chemicals?
You’ll find out soon

Finding out if a product contains hazardous substances can be difficult. Or at least time consuming. But soon a new database will be established to provide consumers with information on whether or not a product contains Substances of Very High Concern.

The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) recently announced that it will establish a database on the presence of Substances of Very High Concern in products by 2021.

It will be comprised of information submitted by companies producing, importing or selling articles containing substances found on the Candidate List. The decision is based on the revised European Waste Directive that entered into force last month.

“We encourage authorities to move further and demand full chemical transparency”

“This register is a step forward and will provide better information to consumers. However, we encourage authorities to move further and demand full chemical transparency, listing all chemicals – not only the ones on the Candidate List”, says Frida Hök, Senior Policy Advisor at ChemSec.

Up until now it has been difficult for consumers to find out if products contain substances present on the Candidate list, although there are ways to do it.

§33 of the REACH regulation gives you the right to ask the producer of a product about ingredients of very high concern and receive an answer within 45 days. But this is oftentimes a burdensome task which does not necessarily guarantee a satisfactory response.

Circular economy depends on chemical transparency

One aim for the upcoming database is to help consumers make informed choices for safer products, but another aim is for it to improve the risk management of chemicals during waste recovery and to promote non-toxic material cycles.

The information will, therefore, be available to waste operators helping them treat waste, and recycle materials.

“Many companies have already made it clear that they will not be buying recycled materials with unknown content”

Because to be able to recycle something safely you first need to know what it contains. At the moment it is almost impossible for recyclers to know for sure if they are recycling hazardous chemicals or not.

“Knowledge of chemical content is of utmost importance for a successful circular economy, as many companies have already made it clear that they will not be buying recycled materials with unknown content”, Frida Hök concludes.

The register will be open for submission in 2019, and companies will have until the end of 2020 to submit the information to ECHA. Hopefully this database will be a step towards detoxifying recycled material, as well as the everyday products we find on the shelves.

Find out what the big multinationals say about circular economy in our
QUOTES PAPER.