Product Stewardship

We review the safety of our products from research and development through production and all the way to our customers’ application. We continuously work 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 blue. (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 and safety 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. In some cases, we have committed to voluntary initiatives, which go beyond the 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 data base 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 or application-specific product requirements. In associations and together with other manufacturers, BASF is pushing for the establishment of voluntary global commitments to prevent the misuse of chemicals.

Our risk assessment goals support the implementation of initiatives such as the Global Product Strategy (GPS) of the ICCA. GPS is establishing worldwide standards and best practices to improve the safety management of chemical substances. In addition, we are also involved in initiatives such as workshops and training seminars in developing countries and emerging markets, including in China and the Philippines in 2018. In order to facilitate public access to information, we are involved in the ICCA online portal that provides more than 4,500 GPS safety summaries.

Global target

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 reached 91% of this goal in 2018 (2017: 76.2%).1 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 target 1

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

> 99%

1 Our updated corporate strategy realigns our goals from 2019 onward; as a result, we will no longer report on the global risk assessment goal. Furthermore, this goal has become obsolete due to the legal requirement to make chemical risk assessment data available worldwide under regulations such as REACH. For more information on our strategy and goals.

REACH and other chemical regulations

  • Final registration phase of REACH successfully completed

BASF has completed the third and final registration phase of the E.U. chemicals regulation, REACH, successfully and on time. All substances produced in annual volumes between one and one hundred metric tons were registered by the deadline of May 31, 2018. Above and beyond this, our REACH activities continue to be determined by E.U. authorities’ decisions on additional studies in connection with the evaluation of submitted dossiers. BASF is also obligated to continuously update the registration dossiers it has submitted.

We apply the experience we have gathered with REACH to fulfill new legal requirements around the world, such as in South Korea and Turkey. BASF took the industry lead for a significant share of substance registrations in South Korea and submitted all registrations for priority existing chemicals by the July 2018 deadline.

We continue to see 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 products. 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 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 methods, and we use them wherever it is possible and accepted by the authorities. We use alternative methods in more than a third of our tests. Currently, 33 alternative methods are being used in our labs and another 19 are in the development stage. BASF spent €3.5 million toward this purpose in 2018. The development of alternative methods for testing the potential of substances to induce developmental toxicity has been a focus area of our research since 2017.

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

Nanotechnology 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. In recent years, we have conducted over 250 scientific studies and participated in over 40 different projects related to the safety of nanomaterials. The results were published in more than 100 scientific articles. In 2018, we concluded our five-year Nano-In-Vivo research project in cooperation with German governmental bodies. The project delivered important insights into the toxicological effects of long-term exposure to nanoparticles and complements our previous findings that toxicity is determined not by the size of the particles but by the intrinsic properties of the substance.

We contribute our expertise in various working groups of the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) and the OECD’s Business and Industry Advisory Group (BIAC), which develop testing and implementation guidelines. Together with partners from academia and government authorities, in 2018 we started work on E.U.- funded projects to validate alternative testing methods for evaluating and grouping nanomaterials with a view to regulatory acceptance. In 2018, we were recognized by the European Chemical Industry Council (CEFIC) for our transparency in addressing questions about the safety of nanomaterials.

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 also guided by the code of conduct set out by EuropaBio, the European biotechnology association.