REACH for Consumers

Source: Europäische Chemikalienagentur

The price you pay

Articles can contain dangerous chemicals. Before buying one, we recommend to use your right to ask the supplier about substances of very high concern in his article. With the Federal Environment Agency’s app Scan4Chem this is very easy to do. Simply scan the barcode of the article and automatically send an inquiry to the responsible producer or importer. This advert by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) encourages consumers to make use of their right to get this information.

Tip-Box

  • Take advantage of your right to information under REACH! It sends a clear message that you do not want to buy products that contain Substances of Very High Concern. A request to the supplier can be sent quickly and easily by using the app Scan4Chem launched by the Federal Environment Agency. 
  • In addition to the right to information under REACH, quality labels that mark green and user-friendly products can also aid purchasing decisions. We recommend looking for products with the Blue Angel eco-label. The German website Label-online.de assesses quality labels. 
  • Become a regular reader of environmental and consumer magazines. They contain a lot of information on both safe and unsafe products and chemicals in addition to test reports. Visit the consumer portal of the Federal Environment Agency „Umweltbewusst leben: Der Verbraucher-Ratgeber“
  • You can do the environment a big favour by purchasing durable products or simply by reducing buying and consumption. Such action would result in fewer resources consumed, fewer chemicals entered into the environment and the food chain, and less waste incurred. 
  • Extend the lifetime of products, e.g. by mending them instead of buying new ones

Why is REACH important for the general public?

REACH ensures that important information about all the chemicals marketed in the EU is accessible. Most of this information is available to the general public and can be retrieved on the ECHA website. REACH translates into more consumer protection against risks from chemical substances. For instance, REACH provides for identification of articles that contain Substances of Very High Concern and for substitution of these substances. The right to information under REACH also gives consumers the possibility to obtain information on their own and to thus make well-informed purchase decisions.

Right to information

If an article contains chemical substances (e.g. dye in a plastic product), information about any Substances of Very High Concern (SVHC) and on safe handling must be communicated along the entire supply chain. Consumers are entitled to this information from merchants, importers or the manufacturer upon request. This right is guaranteed independent of actual purchase. Enquiries must be answered within 45 days. This right to information did not exist prior to REACH. Making an enquiry is quick and easy with the online form, which is available in German and English. All you need is to enter the number under the product bar code in the online form and provide your contact information for the reply. The online form automatically generates an enquiry to the manufacturer or importer. 

You can also choose to use Federal Environment Agency’s specimen letter in German or English to make an enquiry.

The duty to supply information applies for most objects, including household goods, textiles, shoes, sportswear, furniture, DIY products, electrical & electronic equipment, toys, vehicles, packaging etc. It does not extend to sectors governed by separate regulations such as, e.g., liquid or powdery products (e.g. paints, varnishes), medical devices, drugs, foods, cosmetics, detergents and cleaning agents, animal feed, plant protection agents and biocides.

Source: Umweltbundesamt

Chemicals are everywhere

Chemicals are everywhere and we are exposed to them every day, e.g. via packaging material, furniture or plastic bathing shoes. Sometimes these chemicals are not harmless. Certain chemicals are suspected to damage human health or the environment. Unfortunately no one can tell which chemicals are contained in an article just by looking at it.

Retailers, manufacturers and importers have to provide information on substances of very high concern in articles on your request – independent of a potential purchase. With the app Scan4Chem it is very easy to send a request.