More than 90% of all chemicals in consumer products non-compliant with REACH come from outside of the EU

More Than 90% Of All Non-Compliant Chemicals In Consumer Products Come From Outside Of The EU

Key findings:

  • 92% of chemicals non-compliant with REACH in consumer products come from outside the EU/European Economic Area (EEA)
  • In general, the number of non-compliances with all chemical legislation (REACH and product-specific legislation) increased in 2019 compared to 2018 due to a stronger enforcement of RoHS Directive in 2019 (Directive on the restriction of the use of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment).
  • The number of non-compliances related specifically to REACH has remained stable over the last two years.

92% of chemicals non-compliant with REACH in consumer products come from outside the EU/European Economic Area (EEA). This is the key finding of the Cefic analysis of data reported through the EU’s rapid alert system (RAPEX) ‘Safety Gate’.

The finding confirms an urgent need for EU member states to step up enforcement of REACH in imported goods.

Sylvie Lemoine, Cefic Executive Director Product Stewardship: “We want REACH to work and consumers to be protected. Better enforcement of REACH in imports has to become a key element of the upcoming chemicals strategy for sustainability. We have the strictest chemical legislation in the world. But it will only fully work to the benefit of people and environment if properly enforced”.

Restricted phthalates, mostly found in children’s toys, are the most frequent case of non-compliance at 25%.

The total number of all chemical non-compliance caught by RAPEX has increased by 24% compared to 2018.

“It is also important to ensure that restrictions under REACH are actually enforceable,” added Sylvie Lemoine. “You can increase the number of inspections by ten or twenty times, but if enforcement authorities do not have tools to check compliance, a restriction is useless.

We call for compliance tools and methodologies to accompany every restriction measure.”

Strengthening enforcement, especially in imports, has also been identified as one of the areas of improvement in the second REACH Review published by the European Commission in 2018.

Rapex 2019 – Breakdown of cases of non-compliance per category of product

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Rapex 2019 – Breakdown of non-compliance per legislation

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Rapex 2019 – Breakdown of non-compliance by chemical

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Background Information

This analysis is based on the Commission’s 2019 RAPEX data, broken down to individual chemicals. Through the Safety Gate Rapid Alert System for dangerous non-food products (RAPEX), EU/EEA member states and the European Commission exchange information about products posing a risk to health and safety of consumers. In 2019, RAPEX listed 1468 instances of chemicals that were not in compliance with the law.

Cefic’s analysis excludes button batteries and motor vehicles. The raw data has also been adjusted for the fact that a product can sometimes be found in other countries or in different colours.