clp chemical label changes proposal font sizes

EC unveils proposal to revise EU chemical labelling rules

On 19th December 2022, the European Commission proposed a revised Regulation on the classification, labelling and packaging of chemicals (CLP) and introduced five new hazard classes for endocrine disruptors and other harmful substances.  The addition of these new hazard classes means that relevant chemical manufacturers will need to update the labels on their packaging, Safety Data Sheets, and REACH registration dossiers when selling chemicals on the EU market.

However, it is the proposed changes to label formatting that could have far wider implications for the rest of the chemical industry.  These proposed amendments, aimed at improving the communication of chemical hazards, include significant changes such as minimal font sizes and changes to the layout of labels.


New Labelling Proposals

In order to improve the hazard communication of chemicals the EC suggested 5 measures:

  1. Obligatory formatting rules for labels
  2. A framework of rules for selling chemicals in refillable containers
  3. Voluntary partial digital labelling
  4. A broader use of fold-out labels
  5. Additional derogations for chemicals sold to consumers in bulk (such as fuel) and in very small packaging (such as writing instruments)


Obligatory formatting rules for labels

The new formatting rules aim to increase the visibility and legibility of important information on chemical labels. One key aspect of this proposal is the introduction of minimum font sizes for labelling text.

It is also proposed that the text on the label shall have the following characteristics:

(a)  the background of the label shall be white;(b)  the distance between two lines shall be equal, or above, 120 % of the font size;(c)  a single font shall be used that is easily legible and without serifs;(d)  the letter spacing shall be appropriate for the selected font to be comfortably legible.

The following table from the proposal indicates the minimum dimensions of the label, the pictogram, and the font size of letters:

CLP GHS label font sizes update


The following label example shows the text at the proposed size for a 5L container (74x105mm).  The necessary elements, with the text at 12pt, take up the full size of the label with no room left for contact details or other information.  If a substance, or mixture, requires more than 2 hazard pictograms, or a larger amount of phrases, this would be impossible to configure and a larger label would be required – having a knock-on effect on the amount of material needed for the label, and also the cost and subsequent waste thereafter.  This could also lead to companies aiming to minimise the number of phrases per label, resulting in the end user having less information at hand.

CLP GHS chemical label. font sizes

Selling Chemicals in Refillable Containers

A framework of specific rules has been proposed that will ensure that hazardous chemicals sold in refillable containers does not lead to any increased risks.  This method of sale will be limited to chemicals with less severe hazards.


Voluntary Partly Digitised Labelling

It is proposed that a limited set of information could be provided by digital means only as a complementary hazard communication measure.  Only label elements that are not instrumental in the protection of health and safety and the environment, and are not obligatory under the GHS regulations, may be replaced by a digital label.

In addition to keeping essential safety information on the physical labels, making more use of digitalised labels would make it possible to provide additional information online about hazards, safety, and product composition, in many various languages.


Broader Use of Fold-Out Labels

The proposal amending CLP advocates for the broader use of fold-out labels as they allow the industry to take advantage of ‘economies of scale’, in particular when distributing a chemical featuring multiple languages which makes labels hard to read at the expense of communicating important hazard and safety information.  Current legislation only allows for the use of fold-out labels if the general rules for the application of labels cannot be met due to the size, or shape of the package, but proposals are advising that more flexibility be given to suppliers by providing a broader use of the fold-out label.


Labelling of Online Sales

In order to address legal gaps and high levels of non-compliance the new proposal aims to strengthen the rules for online sales.
Online marketplaces are not defined as ‘importers’ nor ‘economic operators’ and therefore EU Member State authorities cannot enforce EU chemicals safety laws for goods sold online, especially if online marketplaces are registered outside of the EU.
It is proposed that the same classification, labelling and packaging obligations should apply to online sales and that chemicals sold online, in the EU market, must be in compliance with the CLP regulations.
In addition, there will be an obligation on the advertising of hazardous substances and mixtures to contain all of the information which is most important in terms of safety and protection of the environment, and for the advertisement to contain the hazard pictogram, signal word, the hazard class, and the hazard statements.


Deadlines for Updating information on labels

As well as changes to the labelling elements, the Commission also published proposals regarding fixed time periods for updating labels.
To increase enforceability of the obligation placed on suppliers to update their labels after a change in the classification and labelling of their substance or mixture, a deadline is to be set with a clearly defined start date.
In the case of a change which results in the addition of a new hazard class, or a more severe classification, or new supplemental labelling elements, the supplier shall ensure the label is updated within 6 months after the results of a new evaluation were obtained.
In the case of a classification updated to a less severe hazard class, without triggering classification in an additional hazard class, or new supplemental labelling requirements, the deadline for updating the labels shall remain at 18 months from the day on which the results of a new evaluation were obtained.


Next Steps

These changes would only apply to chemicals sold in the EU market and it is unknown, as yet, if this will be implemented into GB CLP regulations.

It is also worth noting that these proposals are not yet final and the EU is taking feedback from the industry and stakeholders before finalising any regulations.  The implementation of these proposed measures will have an impact on the cost of production of chemicals and the industry will have to come up with solutions to balance safety and economic aspects.

Read the Delegated Act and Proposal for Revision of the Regulation on Classification, Labelling & Packaging of  Chemicals.

A consultation on the proposal for revision is open until the 30th March 2023 and comments can be made  HERE  (scroll down to the open consultation).

Do NOT make any amendments to your labels on the basis of these proposals.  It is possible that further alterations may be implemented before the actual publication of any legal text.


How Can Hibiscus Help

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Hibiscus Plc has been providing labelling solutions for the chemical and hazardous goods industries for over 40 years.

Find out how we can improve your hazard communication compliance – Call us today: 0113 242 4272