WACKER provides information on the safe use of its products and is continually working to prevent or reduce the use of product ingredients that are harmful to human health or the environment. We pursue this goal in various ways:
- We try to replace harmful ingredients with alternative substances.
- In the absence of an alternative, we restrict the sale of products containing harmful substances to commercial and industrial customers wherever possible.
- We develop innovative alternatives to conventional products containing harmful substances.
WACKER ensures that, if used correctly, no risk to health or the environment is posed by any of its products. We continually update our product information and constantly revise our risk assessments – which relate, for example, to safety aspects and environmental impacts – to promptly take account of new findings. In the event of new findings that REACH requires included in the substance safety report, we adapt our risk assessments accordingly.
A material safety data sheet (MSDS) is only required by law for some 40 percent of WACKER products. We go beyond these requirements and compile these sheets for all our sales products – not just for those classified as hazardous substances. WACKER publishes over 75,000 material safety data sheets in up to 35 languages.
REACH legislation, which came into force in 2007, governs the registration, evaluation, authorization and restriction of chemicals within the European Union. Comprehensive data are gathered through REACH, which imposes high requirements on the manufacturers, importers and users of chemical products. All substances on the European market that are used or imported in annual quantities exceeding one metric ton must be registered and evaluated. The scope of evaluation work is largely determined by the quantity produced or imported and the expected risks.
GHS (Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals) is a United Nations initiative for harmonizing the classification and labeling of hazardous substances. It is up to individual countries to decide whether to adopt the system, and, if so, which modules to accept, and when. GHS was introduced to Europe in January 2009 with the European Regulation on the Classification, Labeling and Packaging of Substances and Mixtures (the CLP Regulation). We started adapting our safety data sheets to meet international GHS requirements back in 2007 and are continuing this process in line with the GHS implementation deadlines set for the countries to which we supply products.
The ICCA (International Council of Chemical Associations) has developed the “Global Product Strategy” (GPS), which contains rules for assessing the properties of chemicals and for providing information on their safe use. In Europe, most GPS requirements are satisfied by the European chemicals regulations REACH and CLP (Classification, Labeling and Packaging of Substances and Mixtures). GPS takes the idea of easily available and understandable information on the properties, risks, protective measures and safe use of chemicals especially seriously and commits manufacturers to publishing so-called GPS Safety Summaries – descriptions written in layman’s terms on the safe and environmentally sound use of chemicals, available to anyone via the internet.
WACKER takes environmental, health and safety criteria into account at every stage of the product life cycle – every research and development project examines the sustainability aspects of our new products and processes, starting with the raw materials used. We try to minimize raw-material consumption, while selecting materials which offer maximum ecological benefit.
Our products are generally supplied to business customers for further processing – not directly to end customers. Our life cycle assessments (LCAs) look at the environmental impact caused by a specific product family throughout its life cycle – a “cradle-to-gate” assessment extending from manufacturing to the factory gate. These analyses allow us to gage the sustainability of our products and production processes, and to improve them accordingly. Our evaluations factor in the material, water and energy consumption of a product, as well as its ecotoxicity, over the entire lifecycle. With the help of the WACKER EcoWheel®, we identify key sustainability topics and, together with our customers, set priorities for research projects.