Chemical risk information in product chains: The cases of paint and textile
Licentiate thesis, 2012
Chemicals are present in or have been used for production of a large number of products available for private consumers. There are many benefits and useful applications of chemicals, but risks and negative side-effects shall not be overlooked. Risks related to chemicals can occur during all steps of production and use of a product, and generally products are manufactured during a number of steps, with many different actors involved in production, use and waste management. In order to handle risks connected to chemicals in all steps of the product chain, chemical risk information is central.
The aim of this thesis is to describe how chemical risk information is handled in product chains and which information that is communicated. A second purpose is to investigate how the handling of chemical risk information is affected by external factors, such as legislation. In order to do this, two examples of consumer products (textile and paint) affected by different legislation and with production processes taking place in different geographical context have been studied. The main method for data collection has been semi-structured interviews and content analysis has been used for analysis of the material.
The results show both differences and similarities between the two studied industries. The most profound difference between the two cases was the communication of chemical risk information in the product chains. For the textile case, most information was communicated up-stream between companies, from the retailers to the direct suppliers in the form of a list of restricted substances while for paint, chemical risk information was central in many parts of the product chain, particularly in the manufacturing steps and mainly communicated down-stream between companies. This difference is strongly associated to the considerably different legislation between the two industries. Another important conclusion is that the geographical context matters, both in terms of possible misunderstandings of information due to translation and culture and in terms of local traditions and degree of development in producing countries.
One similarity between the two studied industries is that communication with colleagues from other companies in the industry was considered important for interpretation of legislation and information exchange. An additional similarity between the cases was that the perceived interest from private consumers regarding chemicals in the products was low.
Chemical risk information