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 each chapter address the station shown in dark green. (here: Suppliers, BASF, Customers) (graphic)


  • Global directives with uniformly high standards for product stewardship

We are committed to continuously minimizing the negative effects of our products on the environment, health, safety and security along the value chain – from development to disposal. This commitment to product stewardship is enshrined in our Responsible Care® charter and the initiatives of the International Council of Chemical Associations (ICCA). We also ensure uniformly high standards for product stewardship worldwide. Some of our voluntary initiatives go beyond local legal requirements.

We provide extensive information on all our chemical sales products to our customers with safety data sheets in around 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.

For example, in cooperation with the chemical association ICCA, BASF is pushing for the establishment of a voluntary global commitment to the controlled marketing of chemicals that could be misused for purposes other than industrial chemical applications. Producers in North America and Europe are already implementing the voluntary commitment. Manufacturers in China and Taiwan are currently in talks about joining the scheme as well.

Our risk assessment goals support 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 order to facilitate public access to information, we are participating in the setup of an ICCA online portal that provides more than 4,500 GPS safety summaries.

Global goal

By 2020, we will conduct risk assessments for more than 99% of the substances and mixtures sold by BASF worldwide in quantities of more than one metric ton per year. We already reached 76.2% of this goal in 2017 (2016: 75.4%). 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

>99 %

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

We are working on registering substances produced in annual volumes between one and one hundred metric tons for the third and final phase of the E.U. chemicals regulation, REACH, which will end on May 31, 2018. 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. Over 80% of our dossiers have already been updated, although the majority of these updates were 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 South Korea and Turkey. In 2017, BASF took the industry lead in South Korea with a large number of substance registrations and was one of the first companies to receive such registrations. We also advised government representatives on chemicals legislation in 2017, for example in Brazil and Columbia.

We are seeing a rise in both regulatory requirements for agrochemicals and the number of additional studies required to obtain or extend approval for crop protection products. Potential risks for people and the environment are carefully assessed and minimized throughout the research, development and registration process for crop protection agents. We perform a large number of scientific studies every year to ensure that our products meet the highest safety requirements.

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 in the research and development phase of our products. For instance, 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 19 are in the development stage. BASF spent €3.4 million toward this purpose in 2017. One focus area of our research in 2017 and subsequent years is the development of alternative methods for testing the potential of substances that negatively affect organisms’ growth and development.

Since 2016, our Experimental Toxicology and Ecotoxicology department has been working 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- and biotechnology

Nano- and 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. Over recent years, we have conducted over 250 scientific studies and participated in over 35 different projects related to the safety of nanomaterials. The results were published in more than 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 systematically test and assess nanomaterials. We contribute our expertise through various ECHA working groups or the OECD’s Business and Industry Advisory Group (BIAC). In May 2017, the ECHA published guidance on the registration of nanomaterials, which we helped to develop. The E.U.-funded NanoDefine project, in which we developed measurement strategies for identifying nanomaterials together with 27 partners, was also concluded in 2017.

BASF makes successful use of biotechnology. We produce a range of established products with the help of biotechnological methods. This provides us with extensive 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.