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Adding uniformity to the mix

Adding uniformity to the mix

Adding uniformity to the mix

New rules governing the packaging of chemical mixtures come into force next summer. James Killerby, director of labels and software provider Hibiscus plc., explains why, when and how companies should react.

With new laws governing the classification of hazardous chemical mixtures on the horizon, it is imperative to grasp the consequences quickly to comply with the impending stringent regulations. And there is plenty to get to grips with when looking at the new CLP (Classification, Labelling and Packaging of Substances and Mixtures) legislation.

The CLP legislation, which comes into force in June 2015, covers important packaging issues, such as child-proof closures and tactile warning devices for people with poor vision. Several new features are being introduced to the labelling and packaging of mixtures and the detailed rulings will dictate the size of labels, the information contained on them and the precise positioning of that information. The small print also contains rulings on the types of supplemental information that should be included on the labelling.

These are not changes to be taken lightly and have not been made on a whim by Brussels bureaucrats. New European laws on the labelling of single hazardous substances were introduced in 2010. With millions of chemical mixtures now on the market – and increasing demand worldwide for chemicals, some of which can be harmful to health – it is essential to draw up a single international system to harmonise their classification.

The CLP regulations, which are the EU’s laws echoing a worldwide system drawn up by the United Nations for classifying and communicating the hazardous properties of industrial and consumer chemicals, will rid the industry of anomalies which have led to chemicals being labelled as toxic in some countries and not in others. A lack of unity had meant that unnecessary testing, often on animals, was carried out in countries where no classification was available.

In the UK, CLP will replace the long-standing CHIP Chemicals (Hazard Information and Packaging for Supply) regulation which dealt with the Dangerous Preparations Directive for mixtures.

The UN’s Globally Harmonised System emphasises the importance of accurate labelling but also has long-term benefits to the chemical and packaging industries alike. It aims to promote international trade while protecting people and the environment. By creating a standard approach that can be understood and adhered to across the world, without the need for translation or unnecessary testing, there will also be savings in time and money.

So what exactly will it mean for the packaging industry? The compliance date for mixtures already labelled, packaged and in the supply chain can be suspended until June 2017 but between now and 1st June next year, businesses will need to familiarise themselves with the ‘ins’ and ‘outs’ of the new regulations to ensure mixtures put on the road from that date comply. Some groups of chemicals are exempt, while others are covered by more specific legislation.

The new CLP hazard labels display the UN GHS pictogram – red-bordered diamonds set on a white background – and will replace the orange and black EU hazard symbols. There is a series of physical hazards pictograms (including explosive, flammable), a range for health hazards (toxic, irritant) and a symbol showing acute hazards to the aquatic environment.

In addition to the new labels, there are guidelines relating to the use of words, phrases and terms which must not lead the user to underestimate or misconstrue any dangers that might be present – such as ‘Safe’ or ‘Non-toxic’.

With much to consider, it’s time to focus on the new regulations and aim for a ‘right first time’ approach.

Hibiscus PLC is holding a seminar on 12th November 2014 about the CLP mixtures regulation. For information about attending, please contact the Hibiscus office on 0113 242 4272 or email