European Commission proposes to simplify detergent Regulation

12 May 2023 | Muriel Cozier

Proposals also seek to improve sustainability with clear rules for refilled detergents.

The European Commission has proposed revised regulations for detergents that it says will ‘simplify and future-proof the current rules’ to improve protection of health and the environment. It will also allow for better functioning of the Single Market for detergents, the Commission added.

The Commission’s proposals include a move to facilitate the sale of innovative detergent products. These include detergents that work by the action of microorganisms.

‘These microorganisms may present promising alternatives to harmful chemicals, the revised Regulation will introduce safety requirements for microorganisms in detergents and the obligation for manufacturers to label the presence of microorganisms in the detergents so that consumers are better informed,’ the Commission said.

Other innovations in cleaning include the use of captured carbon dioxide from waste gas streams to produce detergents, instead of using imported fossil products. The Flue2Chem project, which involves 15 key industrial players, is looking to convert and valorise waste flue gas from industries such as metal, glass, paper and chemicals to create a more sustainable supply chain for a range of other products.

The Commission’s proposals also seek to improve sustainability with clear rules for refilled detergents. The proposals will clarify that refilled detergents are subject to the same rules as pre-packaged detergents.

The proposals will also bring clarity where the Detergents Regulation and other pieces of EU chemicals legislation overlap, notably the Regulation on classification, labelling and packaging of chemicals, the Biocidal Products Regulation, and the REACH Regulation. These overlaps often lead to duplications in the labelling requirements for detergents that pose an unnecessary burden on the detergents industry, the Commission said.

The detergents sector is said to have accounted for some 4.2% of the production value of the total chemicals sector in 2018. The market value of the European detergents industry was put at €41.2 billion in 2020.

While supporting the proposed revisions of the Regulation, the International Association for Soaps, Detergents and Maintenance Products (AISE) said that the introduction of prescriptive requirement for microbial cleaners via the Detergents Regulation risked hampering innovation and ignored the framework already developed by industry to allow for appropriate risk management of microbial ingredients, with the aim of avoiding unacceptable risks to users.

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