Consumer survey shows Europeans highly concerned about the presence of problematic chemicals in articles

10 / 07 / 2019

The LIFE AskREACH project has recently conducted surveys of more than 14,000 citizens in the 13 partner countries and Serbia, targeting consumer awareness about SVHCs (substances of very high concern) in articles.

Results show that chemicals are one of the main concerns Europeans have regarding environmental issues, but this is also an area where there is a perceived lack of information. Findings from Eurobarometer polls corroborate these results.

It is not surprising that there was overwhelming support for more information at the time of purchase about problematic chemicals in products like toys, clothes, electronics, furniture, etc.

Children’s articles and clothes, shoes and accessories are the main product categories of concern regarding SVHCs. And a clear majority of respondents felt that consumers should be able to buy products in all categories that do not contain SVHCs. So, more than information on the presence of such substances, Europeans apparently long for non-toxic products.

Consumers are interested in practical solutions for increasing transparency about SVHCs in articles – such as the Smartphone-App developed in AskREACH (official launch scheduled for November).

However, awareness about the ‘right to know’ provided for in Article 33(2) of the REACH Regulation seems to be low. Rather, consumers believe they have a general or basic right to demand transparency from producers and retailers about problematic substances in articles.

AskREACH will tackle this lack of awareness with comprehensive campaigns.

Further highlights of the empirical analysis include:

  • how consumers react when they find out that an article contains SVHCs
  • reasons to download and use an SVHC app on a regular basis.

The full analysis can be found in the recent report ‘Awareness and communication on SVHCs in articles: Surveys of consumers and article suppliers – Informing the impact monitoring of the project “LIFE AskREACH”’. This report also documents the findings from the AskREACH company surveys.

The LIFE AskREACH project has the goal of providing an app that will allow for closer and immediate communications between consumers and producers/retailers of an article. Hopefully, this tool will improve information for European consumers about the presence of problematic substances in articles and will stimulate companies to use safer substances. 

About the consumer survey sample

The AskREACH survey for consumers was conducted in June/July 2018 (except for Serbia, where the survey was carried out in the first two months of 2019). The online survey reached around 14,000 recipients in 14 countries through a link sent to contacts, included in newsletters, and promoted via social media (i.e. these were not random samples). It is thus expected that respondents already had some degree of increased interest in the topic.

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