Product labels on chemicals such as detergents, paints, glues or disinfectants carry important information for users. They provide hazard and safety information, ingredients lists and safe use instructions for protecting human health and the environment.
Recent studies concluded that at present, chemical labels are overloaded with information and that the information shown is poorly understood by users.
As a result, the study aimed to assess how chemical labels could be simplified and whether some information could be moved online through e-labelling solutions such as QR or barcodes. To this end, the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs (DG Grow) awarded the consortium formed of VVA, Ecorys and ConPolicy to conduct this impact assessment study.
The 15-month study used a multi-method approach formed of a legal review, desk research, expert interviews, stakeholder consultations, a public consultation and an online behavioral experiment with supporting survey. The study particularly assessed the current regulatory framework formed by the Classification Labelling and Packaging Regulation (CLP) and the Detergents Regulation and provided insights on how the regulation could be simplified and improved to perform better for consumers, industrial workers and professional users.
The pan-European experiment and survey was designed by ConPolicy. It has been conducted with a representative sample of over 4,000 consumers of chemical products in Germany, France, Romania and Greece. VVA later adapted the consumer research to collect information on how industrial workers and professional users perceive and understand the labels.
ConPolicy specifically elicited how consumers understand and appreciate information provided on labels and how labels could be improved. The experiment also measured how different label format impact consumers’ product choices. ConPolicy used behavioral insights to understand what currently hinders an effective processing of the information provided on labels to design targeted interventions to improve the labels. These interventions made use of behavioral nudges to, for example, streamline, add, remove or frame information.
Following the data collection, different policy options for changing the current regulatory framework were derived and likely environmental, social and economic impacts assessed.