CLP Reform; EU Seeks Input

CLP Reform; EU Seeks Input (posted September 2021)

The European Commission is collecting comments on a proposed change to the EU’s chemical classification law, which would be a significant step toward a far bigger overhaul of the EU’s chemical framework.

The European Commission is seeking feedback on the Regulation on classification, labelling, and packaging of substances and mixtures (“CLP”), which is one of the most important pieces of EU chemical legislation. Here’s a quick rundown of the CLP, why it’s being updated, and why it matters to businesses.

A public consultation on policy proposals for reforming the CLP has been launched by the European Commission. By November 15, 2021, any individual, company, or association can submit comments to the Commission, which will be published on the Commission’s website. This consultation is part of a much bigger revision of EU chemical legislation. Reforming the REACH Regulation and other product-specific standards, such as those on cosmetics and food contact materials, as well as introducing new technologies like e-labelling, are all part of the makeover. The EU chemicals system is considered as no longer fit for purpose, with global chemicals production predicted to quadruple by 2030 and chemicals used in 96 percent of produced goods, resulting in a demand for evaluation and probable reform.

What is the CLP?

The CLP is the foundation of EU chemical legislation. It instructs businesses on how to define dangerous substances and how to communicate this information through labeling, packaging, and information sheets. Companies that operate at all stages of the supply chain, including those who employ chemicals in their products, should be aware of the CLP.

Many other pieces of EU law, particularly Regulation 1907/2006 on the Registration, Evaluation, Authorization, and Restriction of Chemicals (“REACH”), will be affected by changes to the CLP (here). Companies must register their compounds under REACH, and substances might be prohibited based on their assessed danger. The classification of the substance, which is done based on the criteria set out in the CLP, is an important aspect of REACH registration.


CLP Reform; EU Seeks Input | Photographer: Michael Longmire | Source: Unsplash

Why does the CLP need a reform?

The CLP reform is part of the European Commission’s extremely ambitious “Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability”, which was launched in October 2020. More than 50 steps in the strategy will necessitate legislative amendments.

The CLP is no longer considered fit for use. Why? One of the most heard opinions is that the current laws are excessively ambiguous about who is legally accountable for compliance, which might cause problems in complex supply chains or with online sales. This makes it difficult for firms to comprehend and comply with the CLP’s requirements. The Commission has acknowledged this, as well as its belief that the CLP no longer encompasses the whole range of chemical dangers.

Is the public consultation important for the industry?

Companies who manufacture, export, or use chemicals in their products should consider contributing to the consultation, or at the very least staying close to the outcome. The Commission has released an Inception Impact Assessment, which outlines many policy options under consideration. Some of these policy alternatives, particularly those targeted at making compliance easier, are likely to be beneficial to businesses.

The Commission, for example, has stated that it intends to allow corporations to put multilingual fold-out labels on normal-sized packages, which is presently illegal.

However, if some of the proposals are implemented, they may create new challenges that would have a substantial influence on global businesses. The present CLP is based on UN standards that are universally harmonised. If the EU departs from these principles, there may be separate restrictions for chemical and mixture exports to EU and non-EU nations.

The Commission has also proposed creating new danger classes that do not already exist, such as endocrine disruptors, which have long been a source of debate in Europe. The goal of establishing a new hazard class under the CLP is to “avoid the use of endocrine disruptors in consumer products” in the long run. This might have a big impact on enterprises who make and import consumer goods, because ingredients that are currently allowed in the EU could be prohibited in the future.


CLP Reform; EU Seeks Input, source: Emma Bichet and Claire Temple


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