Responsibilities of industry
One important actor in the management of chemicals is industry, for example producers, importers, retailers, and professional users of chemicals. It is important to define the roles and responsibilities of industry actors in the legislation.
Responsibilities in the supply chain
All actors in the supply chain shall apply relevant risk management measures for the chemicals they produce, import, place on the market, use or otherwise handle. Those who develop and use the actual chemicals should be responsible for having the necessary knowledge. To achieve this, it is necessary to define clear roles and responsibilities for the different actors in the supply chain.
We suggest that the main obligations should fall on the producers and importers of chemicals (sometimes called primary suppliers). Early measures of chemicals control when chemicals are placed on the market, all aim to minimise the risks to human health and the environment, as part of a preventive chemicals control. Downstream users should choose safer alternative chemicals and technologies fit for their purpose when such are available and use the chemicals in a safe way.
Find out more in our Guidance on risk reduction, where you can read about:
- Responsibilities of industry, with examples of division of tasks between producers/importers and downstream users, see section 3.
- Risk reduction through general obligations on industry, see section 4.
- A proposal for legal text describing responsibilities and obligations for actors in the supply chain, see section 4.4.
Dissemination on information in the supply chain
Chemicals risk management should be an integral and natural part of the daily work within industry, including all companies that handle chemicals. The starting point is to ensure that information on the contents, hazards and precautionary measures for the chemical substances and mixtures that are available on the market is disseminated in the supply chain by those who place the chemicals on the market. Obligations to disseminate this information in the supply chain will give both professional and private users the information needed to choose less hazardous chemicals and to handle the chemicals safely.
A fundamental means to provide for dissemination of information needed for informed choices and safe handling of chemicals to all actors in the supply chain is to make the requirement for classification and labelling and hazard communication according to the GHS (Globally Harmonised System for classification and labelling of chemicals) mandatory.
To be able to classify and label substances and mixtures, and to make risk assessments, the industry should have a responsibility to gather knowledge, and if necessary, generate new knowledge on properties, hazards and risks of chemicals.
Other tasks for industry
Some of the important responsibilities for the importers and producers of chemicals are to identify and assess all hazardous properties and foreseeable risks to human health and the environment before they place a chemical on the market. Both the producers and importers and actors further down the supply chain should also comply with relevant bans and restrictions.
There might also be some obligations to report to government authorities, to contribute to a national registry or inventory of chemicals and suppliers of chemicals on the market. Read more about information on suppliers and occurrence of chemicals on the market.
Further information and resources
The Swedish Chemicals Agency has developed a tool called PRIO, to help companies find and replace hazardous substances in their articles or chemical products. By replacing hazardous substances, employees, the customers, and the environment is better protected. It also allows products to increasingly be recycled and reused, thereby providing the basis for development towards a non-toxic circular economy. The tool is making reference to Swedish and EU legislation, as it is developed for companies placing chemical products on the Swedish market. However, it contains a lot of information about substitution and hazardous properties for many substances that can be useful for companies and other stakeholders in other countries.
Illustrations by Maja Modén.