The EU legislation that applies to detergents and maintenance products

EU regulations ensure that all detergents and maintenance products available on the market are safe for the end-user and the environment. The EU applies the most ambitious set of regulations for the placing on the market of chemicals. The most relevant pieces of legislation for detergents and maintenance products are:

  • REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals)
  • CLP (Regulation on Classification, Labelling and Packaging)
  • BPR (Biocidal Products Regulation)
  • Detergents Regulation

The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) is the EU agency responsible for the implementation of EU chemical legislation. ECHA works for the safe use of chemicals for the benefit of EU citizens and the environment. A.I.S.E. is an ECHA accredited stakeholder, working with ECHA towards successful implementation of key legislation such as REACH, CLP and BPR.

REACH aims to improve the safety and environmental impact of chemicals through the identification of their intrinsic properties. REACH, which entered into force on 1 June 2007, has become the umbrella regulation governing the sale of chemicals and the products that use them. Ingredients used in detergents and cleaning products are also subject to REACH and will therefore undergo a systematic and thorough review of their hazard and risk attributes. REACH also regulates the restrictions on marketing or use of chemicals: in case of an unacceptable level of risk, REACH determines the restrictions to be applied, for example a ban on the sale of a specific chemical ingredient to the general public.

Consumers interested in the technical details of the REACH Regulation may read more on the industry’s website. as well as the website of the European Chemical Agency (ECHA).

The United Nations Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) establishes a consistent framework to classify and label chemicals and their hazards around the world, for the safety of all people and the environment. The CLP Regulation (EU 1272 /2008) implements GHS throughout the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. Most detergents and maintenance products are mixtures and therefore they must comply and be classified, labelled and packaged according to CLP.

The Regulation provides guidance to identify and classify all preparations in terms of the hazard they present to human health and the environment, such as their flammability, toxicity, effects when released in water, etc. It also provides guidance on labelling and packaging of chemicals used in products. This labelling can either be provided on the packaging, as this is the case for consumer products, or via Safety Data Sheets for professional products used in industrial applications.

Consumers interested in the technical details of the CLP Regulation may read more on the industry’s website.

The Biocidal Products Regulation (EU No 528/2012) that went into effect on 1 September 2013 regulates biocidal products in a harmonised way across the European Union to ensure that they are safe to put on the market. It repeals and replaces the 98/8/EC.

A.I.S.E. is assisting with its implementation in several ways by contributing to discussion and activities with the European Commission, the competent authorities and the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA). A.I.S.E. supports the objective of a harmonised European market for biocidal products. We welcome new mechanisms introduced by the Regulation such as Union authorisation, harmonised risk assessment and the concept of biocidal product families. Our view is that a harmonised internal market for biocidal products will help to improve product availability and provide incentives for innovation by reducing the administrative burden. It will also ensure that the same high standards for the protection of human health and the environment are applied across the European Union

Consumers interested in the technical details of the Biocidal Products Regulation may read more on the industry’s website.

This Regulation has been in force since 2005, when it replaced various earlier legislative measures. It requires that surfactants used in detergents meet stringent biodegradation criteria. This is important for the protection of the environment since most detergents and cleaning products are released down the drain and treated in water treatment plants. The Regulation also calls for specific product information to be made available on the packaging and via the internet, for example, the presence of small levels of allergenic ingredients. This Regulation has been extended to restrict the use of phosphate in laundry consumer products and in automatic dishwashing tablets in all EU countries as of 2013 (EU 259/2012).

Consumers interested in the technical details of the Detergents Regulation may read more on the industry’s website.