Successful European awareness campaign on harmful chemicals

Published on 10/03/2023

With more than 127,000 downloads of the free Scan4Chem app developed by LIST engineers and around 12 million barcodes that have been entered into the database, the European LIFE AskREACH project has successfully paved the way for safer products. Started in 2017, the core mission of this unique project involving 20 European partners (public authorities, NGOs, research institutes from 12 EU member states) is indeed to raise awareness among the general public and companies about harmful chemicals, so-called Substances of Very High Concern (SVHCs) in articles (i.e., products other than food, cosmetics or mixtures).

Scan4Chem: a driver of change for and with citizens

Available in no less than 19 European countries, this free Smartphone App helps people find out if a product contains SVHCs in concentrations above the permitted limits by scanning its barcode. If the information is not yet available, the App allows people to exercise their “Right to Know” and send a request to the article supplier. The supplier must then respond if the product contains SVHCs above the legal threshold (0.1% by weight; within 45 days).

“This right is often not known to citizens, neither is the presence and health risks of SVHCs in everyday products such as kitchen utensils, children's toys and even clothing. The Scan4Chem App is a driver for change in consumer habits and manufacturing processes,” said Ghaya Rziga, who is working on the project from LIST.

To get the message across effectively, all partners have undertaken multiple communication campaigns across their countries. In Luxembourg, LIST ran two wide-public campaigns, both physical and digital. The latest campaign ended in November 2022 with a fruitful competition inviting citizens to scan as many products as possible.

Supporting European and Luxembourgish companies

To cover also the commercial value chains, the AskREACH project developed a database for companies where they can include information on their products, particularly whether they contain SVHC or not. The AskREACH tool for companies is tailored to facilitate the management of requests and SVHC information. By registering to the AskREACH database, companies can demonstrate transparency to their customers while complying with the communication obligation according to Article 33 of the European regulation on chemicals, REACH. Since the launch of the Scan4Chem in 2019, over 15,000 supplier contacts have been registered in the database.

“The Scan4Chem App and the AskREACH tools were not made only for citizens but also to help companies to comply with their legal obligations. By responding to a user's request, they can decide to register the article SVHC information directly in our database,” explained Ghaya Rziga. This is a valuable feature when considering that almost 42,000 requests have already been sent by consumers via the application.

In Luxembourg, companies support goes far beyond the Scan4Chem App and the AskREACH database. Whether via the official Luxembourg project website or the national REACH & CLP Helpdesk, LIST experts ensure continuous communication with companies by providing the latest news, interactive workshops and comprehensive support on matters concerning REACH, CLP and POP regulations. The objective is to facilitate and ensure the compliance of companies with these European regulations which are particularly important for the protection of human health and the environment.

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 Ghaya RZIGA
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