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Unraveling the Complexity of Chemicals in the Global Market

Dec 4, 2023

The global chemical trade, a huge and complex industry, presents numerous challenges in the buying and selling of chemicals across international borders. This complexity is caused not only by language barriers,  but also by the diverse and frequently inconsistent naming and classification systems used around the world.

 

The Importance of Regulations and Their Impact on Complexity

Industry regulations are critical for ensuring safety and security. Their primary objective is to prevent the misuse of chemicals, such as their use in the production of illegal drugs or weapons. However, the introduction of new rules frequently leads to increased complexity in the industry. Each chemical can be described and classified in a variety of ways, resulting in a plethora of descriptors and codes. These include:

  • Product name: Trade name, IUPAC chemical name, common chemical name, nicknames.
  • Sub-descriptors: physical form, color, purity,
  • CAS Number
  • HS code
  • UN Number (for Dangerous Goods)
  • Poison schedule
  • Packing Group
  • Food additive code
  • REACH registration

 

The Challenge of Harmonization

Given the extensive global trade in chemicals, an internationally harmonized approach to classification and labeling is essential. However, due to competing priorities and the complexity of global bureaucracy, harmonizing these systems has proven to be a formidable challenge. This difficulty is exemplified by the ongoing efforts to standardize Safety Data Sheets globally. After 18 years and nine revisions, a consensus is elusive, highlighting the inherent challenges in achieving global harmonization.

 

The Crucial Need for Accuracy

In chemicals, a single letter can dramatically change a substance’s meaning and properties. For instance, sodium phosphate, sodium phosphite, and sodium phosphide are fundamentally different. This precision becomes even more crucial in the realm of specialty chemicals, where manufacturers often limit disclosure to meeting only the minimum regulatory requirements in order to protect their intellectual property.

 

DKSH: Navigating the Complexity

As a leading service provider in the chemical industry with centuries of experience, DKSH understands the frustrations and complexities associated with the System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals, as well as varying country regulations and requirements. DKSH Performance Materials offers global assistance in navigating these complex regulatory landscapes. With a team of dedicated regulatory experts, DKSH provides essential guidance on the proper and safe procurement and use of chemicals worldwide. Contact us to consult DKSH's experts and ensure chemical compliance and safety!

 

Authors Bio:

Ash Martin has worked in the manufacture and sale of specialty chemicals for over 25 years. He is currently Senior Manager, Business Development, Own Brands at DKSH Performance Materials. He is fluent in two languages – English and Chemistry.

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