The Classification, Labelling and Packaging Regulation (EC) No. 1272/2008 (the CLP)1 is the EU’s implementation of the UN’s Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals. Product manufacturers, importers, distributors and retailers must apply the changes required by the CLP to their products by 1 June 2015.

Many consumer products, from scented candles to room fragrances, will be impacted by the CLP and have to undergo labelling changes. Products consisting of substances formerly classified as non-hazardous may suddenly be re-classified to a hazardous category. However, finished cosmetics intended for final users are exempt from the CLP.

The CLP introduces new “pictograms”, warning phrases, hazard statements and criteria, with larger and more colourful labels too.

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Will I need to remove older products from the shelves?

Products already on shelf in your stores will not need over-labelling but any new production as of 1 June 2015 will be subject to these requirements which apply to manufacturers, importers, distributors and retailers alike so all involved with the sale of relevant products should be aware of the changes. Alongside the new symbols, the CLP has introduced new scientific criteria to assess the hazardous properties of substances and standard precautionary statements, hazard statements and signal words for labels, which describe the nature and severity of the hazards posed.

New product testing required?

Generally speaking, the CLP does not require a supplier to carry out any testing of products in order to classify them. However, the CLP requires a supplier, importer, distributor or retailer to gather relevant and available information on all hazardous properties of a substance which is to be used in the determination of whether they need to be classified. If a substance is classified as hazardous, or if it contains one or more substances classified as hazardous above a certain threshold, the new requirements for labelling of the product will apply.

Labelling and packaging

As noted above, the CLP sets forth what must be included on the label and the organisation of the various labelling elements including product identifiers and hazard pictograms.

The packaging of a hazardous substance must be designed so its contents cannot escape and the packaging cannot be damaged by the contents. It needs to be strong enough to ensure it meets the normal day-to-day strains of handling in line with standard industry practice.

Note that packaging meeting the requirements of legislation for the transport of goods is presumed to meet the requirements of the CLP.

Exemptions

We note above that the CLP does not apply to finished cosmetics intended for final users. It also exempts small packages of otherwise included products (typically less than 125ml) which are difficult to label.

Conclusion

As the deadline approaches, it will be important for suppliers, importers, distributors and retailers to become familiar with these more onerous new rules that may apply to their products.