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How does CLP work?

The CLP regulation sets the rules for classification and labelling of chemicals. It aims to determine whether a substance or mixture displays properties that lead to a classification as hazardous.

CLP itself does not set information requirements (except for determining physical properties). The information requirements laid down in REACH will however, ensure availability of much data.

Once such properties are identified and the substance or mixture is classified accordingly, manufacturers, importers, downstream users and distributors of substances or mixtures, as well as producers and importers of certain specific articles (explosive articles which are subject to classification according to Part 2 of Annex I to CLP) should communicate the identified hazards of these substances or mixtures to other actors in the supply chain, including to consumers.

The hazard of a substance or mixture is the potential for that substance or mixture to cause harm. It depends on the intrinsic properties of the substance or mixture. In this connection hazard evaluation is the process by which information about the intrinsic properties of a substance or mixture is assessed to determine their potential to cause harm. In cases where the nature and severity of an identified hazard meets the classification criteria, hazard classification is the assignment of a standardised description of this hazard of a substance or a mixture causing harm to human health or the environment.

Hazard labelling allows for the communication of hazard classification to the user of a substance or mixture, to alert the user to the presence of a hazard and the need to avoid exposures and the resulting risks.

CLP sets general packaging standards, in order to ensure the safe supply of hazardous substances and mixtures.

For further reading: An introduction to the CLP for professional suppliers/users pdf - 512 KB [512 KB]

What are the main features of the Regulation on classification, labelling and packaging - CLP?

The aim of the Regulation is to enable a judgment on a substance or mixture (preparation) with respect to its hazardous properties and to provide a hazardous chemical with pertinent hazard labelling and information on safety measures.

The act:

  • Applies the general principles of the UN GHS,
  • Uses the "building block approach" of the UN GHS and a few other options to adapt the system to the EU's needs,
  • Keeps the scope as close as possible to the old EU system (Directives 67/548/EEC and 1999/45/EC),
  • Maintains the level of protection achieved in the EU by including EU "left-overs" that are not yet covered by the GHS, e.g. ozone depletion, EUH014, EUH066,
  • Ensures consistency with transport,
  • Takes over the Annex I of Council Directive 67/548/EEC,
  • Takes over Title XI (Classification & Labelling Inventory) from the REACH Regulation,
  • Defines a transitional period during which both the old legislation and the new Regulation will be in place,
  • Stays as close as possible to the UN GHS format and terminology, e.g. "mixture" instead of "preparation", or "hazardous" instead of "dangerous",
  • Avoids changing the scope of REACH and other Community legislation.

As with the old legislation, the new CLP Regulation is intended to be primarily a self-classification system for enterprises. It entered into force on 20 January 2009 and stipulates that the classification and labelling of substances must be consistent with CLP on 1 December 2010 and mixtures on 1 June 2015. The old Directives on classification, labelling and packaging, i.e. Council Directive 67/548/EEC and Directive 1999/45/EC, will be repealed on 1 June 2015.

What is the role of the European Commission?

The European Commission will update and complete the CLP legislation (for example on technical progress) and take decisions in a number of CLP processes such as updating of annex II (Safety Data Sheets) of the REACH Regulation; following the developments on the test methods Regulation; following and negotiating GHS updates; International (trade) issues. It is involved in the development of provisions in the CLP legislation such as the communication, the fee Regulation and the information flow to poison centres.

In these tasks, the Commission is supported by a Regulatory Committee composed of representatives from all Member States that is responsible for CLP and REACH. In parallel, CLP implementation issues are discussed in the group of Competent Authorities for REACH and CLP (CARACAL). More information about CARACAL.

What is the role of the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA)?

The European Chemicals Agency (the Agency) is a Community body which was established for the purpose of managing REACH. It is central to the implementation of both REACH and CLP, to ensure consistency across the EU.

The Agency through its Secretariat and specialised Committees provides Member States and the institutions of the Community with scientific and technical advice on questions relating to chemicals which fall within its remit. In general, the specific tasks of the Agency include:

  • providing industry with technical and scientific guidance and tools on how to comply with the obligations of CLP (CLP Article 50);
  • providing Member State Competent Authorities with technical and scientific guidance on the operation of CLP (CLP Article 50);
  • providing support to the helpdesks set up under CLP (CLP Articles 44 and 50);
  • establishing and maintaining a classification and labelling inventory in the form of a database and receiving notifications to the classification and labelling inventory (CLP Article 42);
  • receiving proposals for the harmonised classification of a substance from Member State Competent Authorities and suppliers, and submitting an opinion on such proposals for classification to the Commission (CLP Article 37);
  • receiving, evaluating and deciding upon the acceptability of requests to use an alternative chemical name (CLP Article 24); and
  • preparing and submitting to the Commission draft exemptions from the labelling and packaging requirements (CLP Article 29(5)).

What is the history of the Commission proposal?

The Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) provides a harmonised basis for globally uniform physical, environmental and health and safety information on hazardous chemical substances and mixtures. In its Plan of Implementation, adopted in Johannesburg on 4 September 2002, the World Summit on Sustainable Development encouraged countries to implement the harmonised system as soon as possible, with a view to reach a full operational state by 2008. The European Commission and the EU Member States endorsed the UN recommendation to implement the GHS in domestic law. The recommendation was also supported by stakeholders from industry and non-governmental organisations. The publication of the adopted acts in the Official Journal before the end of 2008 makes the EU one of the international leaders in the actual uptake of the UN GHS.

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