Under the REACH (Restriction, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals) regulation, all European consumers are given the right to obtain information on the presence of dangerous chemicals in products. The timeliness and quality of a company’s response is likely to be closely watched by Non-Government Organisations (NGOs), consumer groups and the media. Bureau Veritas Consumer Products Services UK,a world leading provider of quality assurance, compliance and supply chain risk management services, strongly advises retailers and brands to have a REACH policy in place to enable them to respond to such requests in the required time-frame. Falling to comply with the REACH requirements could be instrumental in companies badly damaging their brand image.
Since the 28th October 2008, when the first Candidate List of Substances of Very High Concern (SHVC) was published, Article 33 of the REACH Regulation places a legal obligation on all business partners within the supply chain to provide information on whether the articles they supply contain any SVHC in concentration of more than 0.1% w/w. European consumers have then been given the right to request to be advised of any about potential SVHC contained in the products they buy. In this instance, manufacturers and retailers must be prepared to answer consumers’ questions about the presence of SVHC in articles and provide sufficient information to allow a safe use of these articles within 45 days.
“If no prior REACH policy has been put in place in the supply chain, it may become very challenging for retailers and brands to respond to consumers within the legal time-frame”, warns Jonathon Thackray, Sales & Business Development Director at Bureau Veritas Consumer Products Services UK. “With today’s consumers worrying more and more about the amount of chemicals that may go into the products they buy, and with the press always looking at reporting “bad” companies, no one doubts that any retailer or brand, failing to fulfil their REACH obligations, exposes itself to major brand damage.”
NGOs are watching
Recently, we have seen a number of European NGOs - in Denmark, Germany, Czech Republic, Belgium, Netherlands for instance -, run investigation campaigns to assess if retailers and manufacturers were able to reply within the 45 days. Various NGO sources confirm that less than 50% of companies are currently not able to do so.
Jonathon confirms: “The majority of our clients are taking their REACH responsibilities very seriously and have already put testing and due diligence programmes in place. However, this is probably not the case for all retailers and manufacturers in the UK as research shows. Companies ignoring REACH and its consequences might be held responsible for bringing unsafe products to the market and could loose the trust of their customers if found guilty of not managing this process properly.”
“At the end of the day, companies shall be aware of what goes into their products. Just imagine if food companies were putting on their labels the following warning: “Consume with care, 20% of unknown substances in this product!”. It is the same logic for other consumer goods: REACH is here to help companies know what substances are in the products they market”, Jonathon continues.
A reasonable solution
One of the biggest problems facing retailers, importers and brands is the cost and time involved with managing REACH. Companies may be dealing with tens, hundreds or even thousands of products and suppliers and not have the time and resources to collect the necessary information on all of them. It might be difficult to obtain a Bill-of-Materials and Bill-of-Substances for all products. So, where to start? Is there a way to facilitate the process and focus on the highest risk products? How best to validate the absence of SVHC?
Bureau Veritas Consumer Products Services UK are now providing a due diligence programme to help manufacturers, importers and retailers of consumer products to overcome the burden of REACH. The programme is based on product risk profiling and SVHC testing solution and offers a simple answer to the complexity of chemical management without breaking the bank. Such a programme is highly recommended for textiles, accessories, furniture and other fast-moving consumer products.
For more information, please visit Bureau Veritas Consumer Products Services UK website, email: Bvsales@uk.bureauveritas.com or phone: +44 (0)1925 854 360
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