You have the right to ask if the products you buy contain certain hazardous chemicals. These are so called substances of very high concern (SVHCs), included on the Candidate List. By law, the supplier has to provide you with this information, free of charge, within 45 days.
A large number of chemicals are used in consumer products and their packaging. Your right to ask applies to articles as defined under REACH. For example: textiles, furniture, shoes, sports equipment, toys or electronic equipment. The right to ask does not cover mixtures such as paints, detergents, medicine, cosmetics or food.
How to request information?
You can request information either directly from the shop where you bought the article or from its producer or importer. It is best to make your request in writing.
In order to get the right information, you can include the following in your written request:
- The name/description of the article you are interested in
- Ask for information about the presence of any substances on the "Candidate List of Substances of Very High Concern" in the article or in its packaging. ECHA updates this list twice a year.
- Note that if any of these substances are present, the supplier needs to provide you with sufficient information within 45 days, to allow you to use the article safely. This is required by Article 33(2) of the REACH regulation.
- You can include a reference to the website of the European Chemicals Agency, ECHA, where they can find more information about their obligations under the REACH regulation.
Many national authorities and consumer organisations have prepared model letters that you can use.
What information should you receive?
REACH obliges the suppliers to provide information about the safe use of the article to consumers. As a minimum, they have to communicate the name of the dangerous substance included in the article to the consumer.
The obligation covers only the information about SVHCs in the article, if they are present in concentration of more than 0,1% of its weight. This means that suppliers are not obliged to inform you about other substances in the article or if an SVHC is present at a lower concentration. They can, however, do this on a voluntary basis.
What happens if there is no reply?
Companies are obliged to provide information if their articles contain SVHCs. They should also inform you if there are no SVHCs in their articles. So far, different studies have shown that many suppliers are not yet aware of their obligations. If you demand your rights, you will actually help to raise their awareness.
If companies do not reply, you should approach your Member State's enforcement authority for REACH..