REACH aims for a high level of protection of human health and the environment. It provides incentives for manufacturers, importers and downstream users of chemicals to replace substances of very high concern (SVHC) with suitable alternatives. REACH not only defines an obligation for article suppliers to communicate on SVHC in articles down the supply chain, but it also establishes a right to know for consumers. This right outlined in Article 33(2) of the REACH Regulation entitles consumers to receive information from suppliers of products on the presence of SVHC (persistent, bio-accumulative and/or toxic substances, carcinogenic, mutagenic, endocrine disrupting or respiratory sensitising) in those products within 45 days as well as information on the product’s safe use. This flow of information requires effective communication between all actors in the supply chain on SVHC in the input materials of products (REACH Article 33.1). According to ECHA’s 2016 report on the operation of REACH, there are “clear indications that information on substances in articles is not adequately communicated in the article supply chains”.
LIFE AskREACH has the overall goal of helping the implementation of the REACH directive by: Raising awareness of consumers on hazard information as well as of the market actors on their duties under REACH as importers, manufacturers, downstream users, retailers; Increasing incentives for manufacturers, importers and downstream users of chemicals to replace SVHC by suitable alternatives; Increasing the awareness of actors at the end of the supply chain (producers and retailers, consumers) about the presence of SVHC in goods and of the right to know; Making available on-the-spot information (purchase decision) to increase the market demand for SVHC free products. This is an incentive for industrial actors to identify SVHCs; and Facilitating communication on SVHC between consumers and companies as well as along the supply chain.
Expected results: A central European IT system for communication on SVHC in articles; A European-wide smartphone application for consumers (nearly three million downloads) to send requests to suppliers; A SVHC/article database that will be fed in by companies; A REACH-related supply chain communication tool to support companies in the organisation of the supply chain; Training material for retailers on SVHC in articles; Two large-scale campaigns in 13 countries (including 395 events such as info days, seminars and trainings) that will reach some 6 m recipients in three years; 3 million consumer requests for information sparked by AskREACH forcing companies to provide answers (and thus reinforce their supply chain communication); Enhanced SVHC communication and substitution, leading to a substantial reduction of SVHC; 250 suppliers directly involved with 15 companies exercising supply chain communication; and Massive support from competent authorities and REACH helpdesks from EU Member States.