In the latest project of ECHA’s Enforcement Forum, enforcement authorities found that most inspected products sold online were non-compliant with at least one requirement under relevant EU chemicals legislation being checked. The inspections resulted in more than 5 000 enforcement actions.
Inspections of nearly 6 000 products covered REACH, the Classification, Labelling and Packaging (CLP) and the Biocidal Products (BPR) regulations.
For REACH, inspections focused on restricted chemicals and found that 78 % of checked products were non-compliant. The products included both professional and consumer products and articles including, for example, textiles, leather, childcare articles, toys and jewellery.
Around 2 600 products were checked against requirements for restricted substances. More than 1 800 were carcinogenic, mutagenic or reprotoxic substances (CMRs), such as lead in solders for welding needs and boric acid. Products containing restricted CMRs should only be available for professional users. However, 99 % of the inspected products that contained CMRs were available for consumers to buy online. Other non-compliances were found for phthalates in toys and cadmium in jewellery.
Under CLP, non-compliances were related to a lack of information on the hazards of the chemical product in the online advertisement. In 75 % of inspections, the information was missing and for those where it was available, it was often not clearly visible.
In relation to biocides, 77 % of inspected biocidal products were found to be non-compliant with at least one requirement under the BPR. The highest rate of non-compliance was for repellents and attractants (79 %). Most identified non-compliances were for products sold to the public. 17 % of inspected products breached the BPR because they had misleading statements in the advertisements such as “low-risk biocidal product”, “non-toxic”, “harmless”, “natural”, “environmentally friendly” or “animal friendly”.
Following the inspections, national enforcement authorities initiated more than 5 000 enforcement measures. In most cases, written advice was issued, asking companies to remove the product offer from their websites or bring their advertisements into compliance.
The rate of non-compliance was higher for marketplaces than for web shops. ECHA urges all actors to proactively improve consumer protection for online sales.