Product responsibility for chemicals

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Chemicals are found in all products, and no matter how small or large your enterprise is, your products must comply with the requirements in legislation and rules for chemicals.

There are many rules restricting chemicals in for example:

  • Electronics
  • Construction products
  • Clothing and footwear
  • Jewellery
  • Toys
  • Furniture and home furnishings
  • Packaging
  • Laundry and dishwashing detergents
  • Adhesives
  • Paint
  • Lubricating oils.

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What do you need to monitor?

As an entrepreneur, you must know what substances your products contain. Your business is liable, regardless of where you provide raw ingredients, materials or finished products. This means that you cannot avoid this liability because you purchased the goods from a supplier that is required by law to follow the rules.

Different rules apply for manufacturers, importers, distributors and end-users. What you need to do depends on the type of product and the quantity of the product that you import, manufacture or sell, or if you use substances, mixtures of substances, or products in your business.

Some substances are banned and for some other substances you must have a permit. But for most products:

  • You must know for a fact that your product does not contain banned substances.
  • You must inform your customers if the product contains certain substances.
  • The product must have clear labelling in Swedish, for example on how it should be handled so as not to cause injury.
  • You may need to register the product with the EU’s register for chemical products.

You should:

  • Read up on the rules that apply to the chemicals in your product.
  • Question and make demands on your supplier.

Read more about your chemicals responsibility on the Swedish Chemicals Agency website

From 1 July 2017, manufacturers and importers are obliged to pay a chemical tax on electronics containing flame retardants.  

Read more about the chemical tax on the Swedish Tax Agency website

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What happens if you don’t comply?

As an entrepreneur, if you do not comply with the relevant chemical regulations for your product or process, you may be subject to a sales ban and be forced to recall your products from your customers. You might also be required to pay an environmental fine. In the event of serious infringements, you could be prosecuted for environmental offences.

The Swedish Chemicals Agency, municipalities and county administrative boards are the inspection bodies who inspect enterprises to ensure that they are complying with the rules.

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Hygiene products, cosmetics and foodstuffs

If you trade in foodstuffs, hygiene products or cosmetics, special rules apply regarding chemicals. In this context, hygiene products are treated as cosmetics and are subject to the same rules.

Read more about safe food on the Swedish National Food Agency website (in Swedish)

Read more about chemicals in hygiene products and cosmetics on the Swedish Medical Products Agency website (in Swedish)

Did you find this information helpful?

Responsible: Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth

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