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Chemicals and hazardous substances

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If you believe that there is an increased risk of your suppliers using chemicals and hazardous substances, and you wish to include this topic in the annex to your Code of Conduct, you can add the following requirements to your Code of Conduct by clicking on "Save to clipboard".

In order to protect the environment and people's health, the use of many chemicals and other hazardous substances is either limited or subject to national, regional or international prohibition or phasing-out. It is important to ensure that your suppliers do not use illegal or hazardous substances.

Chemical substances and use of pesticides

a. The supplier has the necessary permits for the handling, use and storage of chemicals and dangerous substances.

b. The supplier complies with any other legal requirements for the handling, use and storage of chemicals and dangerous substances (e.g. certain standards or procedures of use).

c. The supplier does not manufacture, trade and/or use chemicals and hazardous substances subject to regional or international bans or phase-outs (e.g. persistent organic pollutants like DDT and dioxins [1], ozone depleting substances like CFCs [2]; certain hazardous substances like cadmium and polybrominated biphenyls (PBB) [3]; and restriction on the use of chemicals [4].

d. The supplier documents a list or register of all chemicals and dangerous substances used in production and maintenance (e.g. over the past three years).

e. The supplier provides information on safe handling and use of chemicals and dangerous substances both in production and storage areas - including documentation of adequate training of employees who handle chemicals and other dangerous substances. The supplier provides necessary protective equipment for handling dangerous substances.

f. The supplier clearly marks areas used for storage of chemicals and dangerous substances.

g. The supplier properly labels all chemicals and dangerous substances including name of the chemical and a relevant symbol of danger.

h. The supplier substitutes with less harmful chemicals and substances where possible. 

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The environmental consequences of chemical substances are often more extensive than intended. For example, more than 95 per cent of pesticides affect destinations other than the targeted species, and phthalates (plasticisers) have proved to have hormone-disturbing effects on animals and people. Working with chemical substances requires care and prevention, since accidents or disposal can have major environmental and health-related consequences. In general, many users are inadequately informed about the potential short-term and long-term risks, and the necessary precautions are not always taken to ensure the correct use of toxic chemicals.

Based on the precautionary principle, the Stockholm Convention sets a framework for eliminating or limiting the production and use of hazardous substances, in order to protect people's health, as well as the environment. The Convention comprises 12 prioritised persistent organic pollutants (POPs) that are produced intentionally or unintentionally. Unintended production of these substances originates from different sources, such as emissions from homes or from waste incineration plants.

These 12 prioritised POPs are: aldrin, chlordane, dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT), dieldrin, endrin, heptachlor, mirex, toxaphene, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB), hexachlorobenzene, dioxins and furans.

The supplier should ensure that prohibited chemicals are not used in the company's operations and activities. The supplier should also take measures to ensure the storage, handling and disposal of chemicals and other hazardous substances, including oil and fuel.

Correct documentation and labelling of chemicals and hazardous substances that are used and/or stored is vital. The supplier must also ensure that all necessary measures are taken to replace hazardous chemicals with less hazardous chemicals and substances, wherever possible.

The measures taken must be in accordance with national statutory requirements, international conventions, agreements, the precautionary principle and best practice. 

Other relevant information

If a chemical or substance is not on the harmonised legislation list, information on the hazardous nature of a substance for the supplier can be obtained via the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), which publishes a Classification and Labelling Inventory of chemicals on the EU market. This can help to control hazardous chemical substances when products are developed and produced.

The inventory is a database of industry's self-classification of more than 90,000 chemical substances. It includes more than 3 million individual notifications or registrations.

Among other things, the database provides information on the substances' health and environmental risks as they are assessed by the industry itself.

The database is maintained and updated by the European Chemicals Agency.

See the inventory on the European Chemicals Agency's website.

Read the European Chemicals Agency's press release concerning the publication of the inventory.

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