- 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 German 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. The long-term aim is to ensure that substances of very high concern are no longer used in articles and do not enter the environment during manufacture, in the use phase and afterwards.
Right to information
If an article contains chemical substances (e.g. dye in a plastic product), information about any Substances of Very High Concern (SVHCs) 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 a request is quick and easy with the smartphone app Scan4Chem, 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 a request to the manufacturer or importer.
You can also choose to use German Environment Agency’s specimen letter in German or English to make an enquiry.
The duty to supply information applies for most solid objects used by consumers, 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, detergents and cleaning agents), medical devices, pharmaceuticals, foods, cosmetics, animal feed.
Our App Scan4Chem makes it easier for you to get information from article suppliers about substances of very high concern in their articles. The app is available since 31.10.2019 in a newly revised version, which we have developed within the EU LIFE project AskREACH together with 19 project partners. It is now a common European app that is available in many countries. This new, improved app is available free of charge in Google Play and App Store.
You can use the app to scan barcodes of articles and send SVHC requests to the appropriate article supplier. Since the end of 2019, the app is based on a European database in which companies can enter information on their articles. This information is then available to consumers directly via the app.
So far, information for several thousand products is available via the database. The database will be further filled when companies receive numerous SVHC requests from interested consumers. A list of company contact details in the app will also have to be built up over time - with the help of the users. We therefore need committed people who can help us to make the app better.
Use the app to scan barcodes of articles and send SVHC requests automatically generated by the app to the suppliers. Use your right to information to show companies that you do not want to buy articles containing substances of very high concern! With your market power you can achieve a lot!