The new EU REACH Regulation establishes an integrated system for the registration, evaluation, authorization and restriction of chemical substances. It also provides “right to know” provisions allowing consumers to ask suppliers if their products contain Substances of Very High Concern (“SVHCs”) listed on an official Candidate List. Suppliers are obliged to reply within 45 days and free of charge to such requests with the name of the SVHC and information allowing safe use of the article.

The European Environmental Bureau (“EEB”), Europe’s largest federation of environmental NGOs, and four of its members, sent 158 information requests to 60 European retailers between April and August 2010 regarding SVHCs in their products. However, the EEB’s report “The Fight to Know?” reveals that half of the requests did not receive any answers and only 22% of the requests received satisfactory answers meeting the legal requirements. Furthermore, the results from the EEB’s chemical analyses show a widespread use of plasticisers classified as SVHCs in a variety of everyday consumer products.

In particular, the “Fight to Know?” report recommends that retailers should proactively identify SVHCs used in their supply chain and phase them out without delay.