Regulatory Labelling – The Responsibilities of Small Businesses to Comply with Legislation
As a consumer how often do you check the labels on the products you buy? If you have an allergy, for example, every single ingredient is scrutinised before buying, isn’t it? If you are buying a candle or a bath bomb, do you check the ingredient labels?
European Cosmetic Safety Legislation has been in place since the early 90’s, however, most consumers are blissfully unaware of the requirements for all businesses, large or small, producing cosmetic and toiletries to adhere to these strict regulations. Also, labelling requirements for Home Fragrance products such as candles, wax melts, diffusers, and room sprays have been around since 2009 and have grown in detail and depth since then.
Small Business Accountability
Contrary to the belief, small business owners have the exact same accountabilities with regards to proper labelling as large multi-nationals. We are required to research and understand the scope of our accountabilities to ensure we place a safe products on the market.
When I started out making bath bombs and candles for a bit of fun, I was oblivious to the fact that the ones that I was gifting to my family and friends where still required by law to be properly labelled! I assumed because I was not getting money for them that that somehow negated the need for labelling, but I quickly learned that this assumption was very wrong. I also learned via excellent Social Media Groups, that an insurance provider will not cover any Candle/Toiletry/Bath Bomb business unless they have all the required assessments and labelling in place.
What are these legal requirements?
THE CLASSIFICATION, LABELLING AND PACKAGING OF CHEMICALS (AMENDMENTS TO SECONDARY LEGISLATION) REGULATIONS 2015
Otherwise known as CLP, these regulations require all wax blends and home fragrance products to have labels on them that the customer can read and assert whether the product has any substances in them that could cause them harm. They are also required to highlight environmental concerns too i.e. Whether or not a products ingredient may be harmful to aquatic life.
The labels are required to be a certain size also to ensure that they can be read easily by the consumer. There are also requirements in terms of where on the product the label is placed. Essentially the label must be available at the POINT OF SALE of the product. So, if you are selling from your website for example, you should have the CLP label visible for the customers to see on your website.
We outsource our CLP labels to a company that have regular updates from Trading Law, and they keep us right in terms of any emerging legislative changes. It is an extra expense but the peace of mind we have is worth very penny. Of course, this adds to the overall cost of producing a product for the market which the end consumer is not always aware of.
BATH PRODUCTS & COSMETICS
Any cosmetic products which are placed on the market are required by law to hold what is called a Cosmetic Product Safety Report or CPSR. Every product in Europe and the UK, and most products in the United States, will been carefully assessed by a Cosmetic Chemist who then puts a name to a document to sign them off once they have done so. This is a legal document and contains lots of information for the manufacturer, especially in terms of labelling and allergens.
The manufacturer uses the information contained within the report, coupled with their own documents such as IFRA (The International Fragrance Association) reports and Safety Data sheets to help produce proper product labels.
As a small business it is very important to us that our customers can feel safe and assured that our products are safe to use on their skin. Our cosmetic assessments provide that assurance, and our robust labelling allows the customer to see immediately exactly what ingredients are contained within the product.
We am very proud to say that the Sustain Eco Market in Portadown ask all their Traders for proof that they are compliant with the required legislation for their products. It would be great if all markets did the same. A reputable trader will be excited to share their reports with their customers!
How does such legislation impact small businesses?
The cost to small businesses to be compliant is significant. An average Cosmetic Assessment for one product i.e., bath bombs can cost up to £400 depending on the extent of the range (variants) and complexities within each variant. If the company is outsourcing any service to help them comply with legislation, as we do with CLP labelling, then that can cost up to £1,000 a year depending on the number of products produced. There is also the cost of testing all the products prior to assessment. This is money that will never be recouped as you cannot legally sell the products at this stage.
Cheaper is not always better.
There are a lot of businesses selling products similar to those that we sell at Molly and Me Candles at a much cheaper price. They are not necessarily handmade by that business and therefore that business can sell very competitively. If a small handmade business is selling their products in line with all the relative legislation in place, then their prices will reflect the costs of assessments, labels, testing and subsequent training to maintain their knowledge on industry standards. It must help the customer to know that there is a lot more to costings than raw materials and packaging.