Product stewardship

We review the safety of our products from research and development through production and all the way to our customers’ application. We work continuously to ensure that our products pose no risk to people or the environment when they are used responsibly and in the manner intended.

The graphic depicts the different stations along the value chain. The topics in this chapter address the station shown in dark green. (here: Production, Customers) (graphic)


  • Global directives with uniformly high standards for product stewardship

We ensure uniformly high standards for product stewardship worldwide and our voluntary initiatives go beyond legal requirements. We monitor the compliance of our guidelines with regular audits.

We provide extensive information on our chemical sales products to our customers with safety data sheets in more than 40 languages. This is achieved with the help of a global database in which we maintain and evaluate continuously updated environmental, health and safety data for our substances and products. Our global emergency hotline network provides information around the clock. We train and support our customers in fulfilling their industry-specific or application-specific product requirements.

The Care Chemicals division, for example, is involved in the European Federation for Cosmetic Ingredients, EFfCI. Together with other producers of cosmetic ingredients, we discuss the best way to cover our customers’ demand for information. The aim is to enable them to ensure the safety of the cosmetic products they manufacture in accordance with current scientific knowledge. This includes knowledge that extends back along the value chain to the production processes of the chemical raw materials used.

The Intermediates division supports information exchange with customers who manufacture ingredients for personal end-user products. For example, BASF customers such as industrial producers of raw materials for consumer goods are specifically addressed and advised by BASF’s experts as soon as a change is observed in the risk assessment of materials used in the production process.

With our global risk assessment goal, we are supporting the implementation of initiatives such as the Global Product Strategy (GPS) of the International Council of Chemical Associations (ICCA). GPS is establishing worldwide standards and best practices to improve the safe management of chemical substances.

In addition, we are also involved in workshops and training seminars in developing countries and emerging markets. In 2016, for example, we conducted training sessions for chemical industry representatives on GPS in China, India and Kenya on safe chemical management. In order to facilitate public access to information, we are participating in the setup of an ICCA online portal that provides more than 4,600 GPS safety summaries.

Global goal

By 2020, we will conduct risk assessments for all substances and mixtures BASF sells worldwide in quantities of more than one metric ton per year. We already reached 75.4% of this goal in 2016 (2015: 67.8%). The risk associated with using a substance is determined by the combination of its hazardous properties and its potential exposure to people and the environment.

2020 Goal


Risk assessment of products
that we sell in quantities of more than one metric ton per year

REACH and other legal requirements

  • Third registration phase of REACH in progress

We are working continuously on registering substances produced in annual volumes between one and one hundred metric tons for the third phase of the E.U. chemicals regulation, REACH. We have already registered over 250 substances to this end. Moreover, our REACH activities are increasingly determined by E.U. authorities’ decisions on additional studies in connection with the evaluation of submitted dossiers. Independently of this, BASF is also obligated to continuously update the registration dossiers it has submitted. The number of updates has meanwhile exceeded the number of registrations, although over 90% of the updates are undertaken on our own initiative and not as a response to official inquiry.

We apply the experience we have gathered with REACH to fulfill new legal requirements around the world, such as in Korea, Taiwan and Turkey. In 2016, we submitted more than 8,000 preregistrations in Taiwan in order to secure our business activities there.

In an increasingly political agrochemical environment, we are facing a rise in both regulatory requirements and the number of additional studies required to obtain or extend approval for crop protection products.

Environmental and toxicological testing

  • Use of alternative and complementary methods for animal studies

Before launching products on the market, we subject them to a variety of environmental and toxicological testing. We apply state-of-the-art knowledge already in the research and development phase of our products. We only conduct animal studies when they are required by law and approved by respective authorities. Animal studies are at times stipulated by REACH and other national legislation outside the European Union in order to obtain more information on the properties and effects of chemical products.

We adhere to the specifications laid down by the German Animal Welfare Act as well as the requirements of the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care – the highest standard for laboratory animals in the world. We are continually developing and optimizing alternative and complementary methods, and we use them wherever it is possible and approved by the authorities. We use alternative and complementary methods in more than a third of our tests. Currently, 30 replacement and supplementary methods are being used in our labs and another 12 are in the development stage. BASF spent €3.0 million toward this purpose in 2016. One focus area of our research in 2016 and subsequent years is the development of alternative methods for testing the potential of substances that negatively affect organisms’ growth and development.

In 2016, our Experimental Toxicology and Ecotoxicology department began work together with a total of 39 partners on one of the largest European collaborative projects for alternative methods. The project, planned to run for six years, aims to develop alternative methods to the point that chemical risk assessments can be efficiently conducted largely without animal testing.

Management of new technologies

  • Continual safety research on nano- andbiotechnology

Technologies such as nanotechnology or biotechnology offer solutions for key societal challenges – for example, in the areas of climate protection or health and nutrition.

Safe handling of nanomaterials is stipulated in our Nanotechnology Code of Conduct. We are constantly expanding our knowledge of nanomaterial safety. Over recent years, we have conducted more than 240 toxicological and ecotoxicological studies and participated in over 30 different projects related to the safety of nanomaterials. We published the results in over 100 scientific articles. One important finding is that toxicity is determined not by the size of the particles but by the intrinsic properties of the substance.

The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) as well as the OECD and national authorities are currently developing regulatory concepts to test and assess nanomaterials. We contribute our expertise through various working groups, such as the Partner Expert Groups (PEGs) of the ECHA or the Business and Industry Advisory Group (BIAC) of the OECD. These regulatory concepts are all based on a new approach for the targeted investigation of nanomaterials. We developed them together with the European Centre for Ecotoxicology and Toxicology of Chemicals (ECETOC) and other experts and expanded them further using concrete examples in 2016.

An important prerequisite for the consistent application of regulatory specifications for nanomaterials is their clear identification. Together with partners, we have developed a tiered, efficient measurement method in various E.U. projects that is currently being validated for use in REACH.

Transparency is another issue. In our Nano dialog forum, we meet with environmental and consumer agencies to discuss questions on nanomaterial safety and transparency and develop joint recommendations for political representatives. We wrapped up another series of talks in BASF’s Nano dialog forum with a report and an event in Brussels in 2016.

BASF makes successful use of biotechnology. We produce a range of established products with the help of biotechnological methods. This provides us with a great wealth of experience in the safe use of biotechnological methods in research and development as well as in production. When employing biotechnology, we adhere to all standards and legal regulations. We are guided by the code of conduct set out by EuropaBio, the European biotechnology association that actively supports a science-based, transparent and predictable regulatory framework. The association addresses society’s ethical concerns, and promotes better mutual understanding of such issues through dialog.