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CLP labelling of transport packaging – CLP Article 33 (2)

HSEP News Bulletin by Gabriele Heller, the Product Safety Manager of Marabu, chair of ESMA Health, Safety and Environmental Protection Committee.

CLP Article 33(2) requires that the outer packaging of a package not subject to labelling according to the rules on the transport of dangerous goods must be labelled in accordance with CLP regulation‘s requirements. This requirement particularly is problematic for suppliers using one transport package to send different products with different CLP classification, but not requiring TDG labelling to their customers, as they would have to label such a package with all labels of the products contained.

Many printing inks are not subject to transport of dangerous goods regulations, but nevertheless have to be classified as hazardous according to CLP and thus require an according label. Also, it is not unusual that customers order more than one or two different products, but only one or two containers of each of those products. Thus a transport packaging destined for a certain customer often contains a certain number of products with different CLP classification and labelling. In this case, the transport packaging, according to the current requirement of CLP article 33 (2), has to be labelled with all labels affixed to the containers inside the transport package. This requires the labels and the information on which labels have to be affixed to be available at the packing station, and also additional work for the related stuff to affix those labels, resulting in higher costs for packaging and transport.

For distributors the problem is even worse, as usually they do not have access to CLP labels for all products they store and distribute. For this reason, the CASG-LG (Competent Authorities Sub Group on Labelling and Packaging) has drafted 2 proposals in June 2016, intended to solve these problems.

The first proposal recommends to explain in the relevant guidance document that the „outer packaging of a package“ as referred to in Article 33 (2) of CLP regulation means the outermost layer of the packaging intended/used for supply purposes and which remains when removed from transport packaging. A packaging, however, that is used only for consolidating different products for the purpose of transportation is out of the scope of CLP and thus does not require CLP labelling.

The second proposal suggests to include a new sub-paragraph in the Article 29 of CLP. Article 29 contains the exemptions from labelling and packaging requirements. This new sub-paragraph is to allow exemption from the requirements of article 33(2) for a distributor in general, and for a supplier if he puts different hazardous substances in the transport packaging that require two or more different labels.

The second proposal, however, still presents certain difficulties. As distributors are in general exempted from the labelling requirement of article 33(2), whilst suppliers still have to comply with the requirement if they put only hazardous products together in the packaging requiring the same CLP label, actors within the transport chain may think that the package labelled according to CLP contains products that are much more hazardous than an un-labelled package is. This may lead to confusion, creating doubt and even delay within the transport chain.

The differentiation between suppliers and distributors with regard to transport packages containing only substances requiring the same hazard labelling would also create new complexities in the case where an actor in the supply chain has the role of both distributor and supplier simultaneously, e.g. where he consolidates or de-consolidates goods from other suppliers into a new transport package and also adds a hazardous product that he has manufactured or imported himself. Difficulties are foreseen for companies in interpreting how to comply with the obligations, but also for authorities in enforcing them.

These concerns have been submitted by DUCC (Downstream Users of Chemicals Communication Court) to CARACAL (Competent Authorities for REACH and CLP). Now it is up to CARACAL to decide on the proposals.

The next HSEP committee meeting takes place on 11 November 2016 in Barcelona. All ESMA members are welcome to participate in the committee meetings and benefit from sharing Information, knowledge and working together to manage complex regulatory issues. Please contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to register your attendance.

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