How we are regulated

European regulations ensure that all soaps, detergents and maintenance products available on the market are safe for the end-user and the environment. In the EU, the governing piece of legislation concerning chemicals is called REACH (Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals).

In addition to regulatory compliance, members of A.I.S.E. and Cefic are involved in numerous voluntary initiatives to ensure the quality, safety and environmental performance of the products you use in your home or business.

Various pieces of EU legislation apply to the different stages of the product life cycle, from design, manufacture and delivery to use, disposal or recycling. You can find out more about this by accessing the attached PDF document.

Life Cycle

Below is a list of the main EU regulations governing our industry:

 EU Dangerous Preparations Directive (DPD)/EU Regulation on Classification, Labelling and Packaging (CLP): This Directive applies to preparations, i.e. “mixtures” of chemical ingredients, such as those that form a laundry detergent powder, for example. The Directive provides guidance to identify and classify all preparations in terms of the hazard they present to human health and the environment, such as their flammability, toxicity, effects when released in water, etc. It also provides guidance on labelling and packaging of chemicals used in products. This labelling can either be provided on the packaging, as is the case for consumer products, or via Safety Data Sheets for professional products used in industrial applications. EU Dangerous Substances Directive (DSD): This Directive applies to individual chemical substances or ingredients used in preparations. For more information on regulatory labelling please see section on Safety Information . These two Directives are gradually being replaced by one, the Regulation on Classification, Labelling and Packaging (CLP), for alignment with globally harmonised rules.  The main principles for classifying and labelling chemicals will remain similar, but symbols and text that appears on product packs will change. For more information on upcoming changes please click here.

Restrictions on Marketing and Use: In case of an unacceptable level of risk, REACH determines the restrictions to be applied, for example a ban on the sale of a specific chemical ingredient to the general public.

EU Detergent Regulation:
  This regulation has been in force since 2005, when it replaced various earlier legislative measures. It requires that surfactants used in detergents meet stringent biodegradation criteria. This is important for the protection of the environment since most detergents and cleaning products are released down the drain and treated in water treatment plants. The regulation also calls for specific product information to be made available on the packaging and via the Internet, for example, the presence of small levels of allergenic ingredients. This Regulation has been extended to restrict the use of phosphate in laundry consumer products in all EU countries as of 2013, to be followed in the future by restrictions on phosphate in automatic dishwashing tablets (Regulation EU No. 259/2012).

The links below explain the benefits of this regulation for consumers and business customers in the EU:

- A.I.S.E. website "Detergent Regulation"
- Consumer Leaflet
- Professional Customer Leaflet

EU Biocidal Products Directive: this applies to insecticides and products that have anti-microbial properties, such as disinfectants. The Directive’s main objective is to ensure a harmonised EU market for biocidal products.  The Directive requires a highly detailed evaluation of each biocide. Each disinfectant will have to be authorised before being sold. In 2012, Regulation (EU) 528/2012 on Biocidal Products was adopted. It will repeal and replace the Directive 98/8/EC and will come into effect as of 1 September 2013. It is expected to lead to more harmonisation across EU countries.

More information on the BPD is available on the Biocides section on the A.I.S.E. website and the leaflet.

REACH: EU Regulation on Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals: REACH aims to improve the safety and environmental impact of chemicals through the identification of their intrinsic properties. REACH, which entered into force on 1 June 2007, has become the umbrella regulation governing the sale of chemicals and the products that use them. Ingredients used in detergents and cleaning products are gradually subject to REACH and will therefore undergo a systematic and thorough review of their hazard and risk attributes. Further information is available on the A.I.S.E. and Cefic websites.

UN GHS: Globally Harmonised System for Classification and Labelling of Chemicals: This is the global umbrella over the EU CLP Regulation. The system seeks to help protect the health of workers, consumers and the environment. This new EU regulation will gradually replace the DPD/DSD and complement the REACH legislation. For further information please visit the A.I.S.E. and/or Cefic website.     

EU General Product Safety Directive provides a framework with obligations and standards for manufacturers and distributors to ensure the safety of consumer products sold in Europe. Through the Rapid Alert System Rapex, it also allows very dangerous products to be immediately withdrawn from sale in all countries.

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