As the REACH 2018 deadline draws near, cosmetic companies are beginning to feel concerned. Cosmetics companies are almost always downstream users of substances, and they are covered by a different set of regulations. Specifically, REACH doesn’t cover consumer exposure to substances in cosmetics. This has led some cosmetics companies to conclude that they don’t have to worry about REACH. Seeing reminders of REACH responsibilities and REACH webinars for cosmetics companies may be making them think twice.
That’s a good thing. Many cosmetics companies do need to be concerned about REACH.
Downstream users are companies that use a substance in either a professional or industrial capacity. If you mix substances into cosmetic preparations, package them, or import them, you are probably a downstream user. If you use one metric tonne or more of a given substance each year and want to reach the EU market, you may have responsibilities under REACH 2018.
If you just store the products made with the substances and don’t interact with those substances at all, you’re not a downstream user. For example, a retail cosmetics store where consumer packaged goods are sold is not a downstream user. A distributor who never comes in contact with a substance is not a downstream user. On the other hand, if you receive bulk containers of cosmetic preparations and repackage them, you are a downstream user.
Responsibilities of downstream users
If your cosmetics company is a downstream user, you still have some responsibilities under REACH 2018. When you receive Safety Data Sheets (SDS) from your upstream suppliers, you must make sure that those data sheets cover your specific use of the substances. That could include using the substance in a different context — for example, if the substance exposure scenario specifies a particular temperature or a level of ventilation that is very different from your situation. Or it could just be using the substance in a way that is different from what the upstream supplier expected. For example, if you use a fragranced product to clean machinery, your supplier might not have considered that possible use. That means that the supplier’s Safety Data Sheets won’t consider the exposure your team might experience in this unusual situation.
If you use a substance differently from the exposure scenarios on a Safety Data Sheet, you have some options.
You can look into other suppliers, and see whether any suppliers of the substance include your use case on their Safety Data Sheets. You can talk directly with the supplier and let them know how you’re using their product. This allows them to update their dossiers and prepare new SDS that covers your needs.
You can also submit a downstream user chemical safety report (DU CSR). ECHA gives specific instructions for filing this type of report.
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