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 each chapter address the station shown in light 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 that go beyond the local legal requirements.

We maintain and evaluate environmental, health and safety data for our substances and products in a global database. This information is updated continuously. The database forms the basis for our safety data sheets, which we make available to our customers in around 40 languages. Our global emergency hotline network enables us to provide 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.

BASF supports 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 and to support governments in the introduction of local chemical regulations. We are also involved in initiatives such as workshops and training seminars in developing countries and emerging markets. In 2019, these included the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) workshop on regulatory cooperation in Vietnam and a Responsible Care workshop in Argentina.

Global chemicals regulations

Based on the E.U. chemicals regulation, REACH, similar chemicals regulations are being introduced around the world, for example in South Korea and Turkey. We reached important milestones in both countries in 2019. In South Korea, BASF successfully completed the pre-registration phase by the end of June. In Turkey, we submitted several thousand pre-registrations during the pre-registration phase, which is still ongoing. In Europe, our REACH activities continue to be determined by E.U. authorities’ decisions on dossier evaluations. We are also required to continually update our registration dossiers. BASF is working together with the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) on a project to improve the quality of REACH dossiers. BASF was one of the first companies to join this industry-wide initiative.

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, as far as possible, our registration dossiers leave no questions unanswered.

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 toxicological tests. Currently, 33 alternative methods are being used in our labs and another 22 are in the development stage. BASF spent €3.5 million toward this purpose in 2019. 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, BASF SE’s 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 numerous Verbund projects related to the safety of nanomaterials in Germany and around the world. The results were published in more than 130 scientific articles.

In 2018, we concluded laboratory and evaluation work on the Nano-in-Vivo research project. The project was conducted in cooperation with German governmental bodies over a period of more than five years and examined the toxicological effects of longterm exposure to nanoparticles. We communicated the first findings at industry conferences in 2019. We will publish further data and results together with the German governmental bodies in the final report and in scientific papers. The insights delivered by the research project complement our previous findings that toxicity is determined not by the size of the particles but by the intrinsic properties of the substance.

OECD testing and implementation guidelines must be developed for the new requirements for nanomaterials under REACH, the European chemicals regulation. We support this process by contributing our expertise in various working groups of the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) and the OECD’s Business and Industry Advisory Group (BIAC).

Together with partners from academia and government authorities, we are working on E.U.-funded projects to validate alternative testing methods for evaluating and grouping nanomaterials with a view to regulatory acceptance. Many of the methods developed for nanoparticles could, in our view, also be used to evaluate solid particles in the future, an approach we bring up in regulatory discussions.

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 local standards and legal regulations governing production and marketing. We are also guided by the code of conduct set out by EuropaBio, the European biotechnology association.