The CLP Regulation, i.e. Regulation (EC) No 1272/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council on classification, labelling and packaging of substances and mixtures, entered into force on 20 January 2009. It is binding legislation and directly applicable in all Member States, subject to transitional provisions. After the transitional period, the CLP Regulation will replace the EU’s current legislation concerning classification, labelling and packaging, i.e. the so-called Dangerous Substances Directive and Dangerous Preparations Directive.

The CLP Regulation adopts the United Nations’ Globally Harmonised System on the classification and labelling of chemicals (GHS) across all European Union countries. The objective of the system is to ensure that the same principles are used in the classification and labelling of chemicals across the world, both in the transport of hazardous substances and in the use of chemicals, which will improve chemical safety and facilitate cross-border chemical trade. The CLP Regulation takes into account both the most essential elements of the GHS and components of the EU’s former legislation on dangerous substances and preparations (Directive 67/548/EEC and Directive 1999/45/EC), which the United Nations have not harmonised.

The CLP Regulation lays down the criteria on the basis of which a chemical (substance or mixture) is classified as hazardous. A hazardous chemical can be, for example, flammable (physical hazard), acutely toxic (health hazard) or toxic to aquatic organisms (environmental hazard). The CLP Regulation also lays down rules on how hazardous chemicals need to be labelled and packaged to allow them to be used safely. In addition, labelling requirements include different kinds of hazard and precautionary statements as well as signal words.

The CLP Regulation incorporates harmonised classification and labelling lists established in accordance with both the Dangerous Substances Directive (67/548/EEC) and the CLP Regulation. The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) also maintains a classification and labelling inventory, which includes notifications by manufacturers and importers concerning the classification and labelling of substances as well as harmonised classifications.

Differences to previous legislation:

  • different hazard pictograms
  • introduction of signal words ‘Danger’ and ‘Warning’
  • H and P statements (hazard and precautionary statements)
  • higher number of hazard classes and categories
  • partially different classification criteria and cut-off values
  • different approach to the classification of mixtures

More information about the CLP Regulation is available on the website of the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA).