Product stewardship manages and minimizes the environmental, safety and health impacts of substances in our products in line with international regulations from raw materials selection, production process, during use, until end-of-life. It is about knowing the substances we use and produce, being able to explain why we use them, taking the appropriate risk control measures, and sharing this information with relevant and interested stakeholders. We apply a risk-based approach, using safer alternatives whenever feasible, and always when required.
Assessing our exposure to Substances of Very High Concern
In 2020, we finalized the assessment of our full product portfolio to identify products with more than 0.1% Substances of Very High Concern (SVHC), excluding substances in products that are considered ‘essential for life’. We applied a broad set of criteria to identify SVHC. These include CMR (Carcinogenic, Mutagenic or Reprotoxic), PBT (= Persistent, Bio-accumulative and Toxic) and vPvB (very Persistent very Bio-accumulative), respiratory sensitizers, endocrine disrupting chemicals, and suspected CMRs.
Less than five percent1 of our total sales comes from products that contain more than 0.1% SVHC. The assessments for these products include action plans such as replacement possibilities and additional risk-reduction measures. Two substances are responsible for more than half of this percentage, and are classified as suspected CMR (by inhalation). These two substances are embedded in a chemical structure and cannot become available for exposure by inhalation.
Gaining insights into product stewardship
The project provided new insights in and better understanding of (the substances in) our products and processes, which in turn was used as input for our product stewardship roadmap beyond 2020. Global chemical legislation is rapidly expanding and the public is becoming increasingly sensitized to the subject of chemicals. We observe a shift from risk- to hazard-based thinking. With these challenges in product stewardship, we defined five themes to work on:
- Further increase the awareness across the organization
- Improve our master data management
- Improve our use of digitalization tools
- Further implement ‘safe & sustainable by design’ principles
- Adjust our governance when needed
Updating product registries in REACH
As a participant of the voluntary program of the European chemical industry association to improve the quality of the REACH dossiers, we proceeded with the update of the REACH dossiers, in which we were the lead registrant in 2020. The European database is seen as an important source of information on health and environmental hazards, generated with the implementation of REACH in Europe a decade ago. For more information on product stewardship, see the company website.
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