Irish companies importing detergents from Great Britain i.e. England, Scotland and Wales, from 1 January 2021, should be aware of their new obligations under the  Detergents Regulation (EC) No. 648/2004 covering the manufacturing, labelling, placing and making available on the market and use of detergents.

The UKs withdrawal from the EU

The UK withdrew from the European Union on the 31 January 2020. However, with the ratification of the withdrawal agreement and the Ireland/Northern Ireland Protocol, a transitional period applied until 31 December 2020 meaning that UK companies were required to continue to comply with EU chemicals legislation until that date. The transitional period finished at 23:00 on 31 Dec 2020. From 1 January 2021, the Detergents Regulation no longer applies to the UK with regard to Great Britain. Please see below for rules relating to Northern Ireland.

Implications for EU based companies sourcing detergents directly from Great Britain from 1 January 2021

Under the Detergents Regulation, the definition of a manufacturer covers both producers (formulators) and importers of detergents or a surfactant for a detergent. Manufacturers of such detergents/surfactants must be established in the EU and take responsibility for compliance of detergents/surfactants with the Regulation.

From 1 January 2021, a supplier of detergents based in Great Britain (GB) will be non-EU based, with no role under the Detergents Regulation. Any Irish company who sources detergent products directly from GB from that date is an EU detergent manufacturer (EU importer) and must take full responsibility for compliance of the products being placed on the EU (including the Irish) market.

Responsibilities for manufacturers (importers) under the Detergent Regulation include:

  • ensuring that detergent products are labelled & packaged correctly in  accordance with the requirements of the Detergents Regulation, including the name or trademark of the EU based party responsible for placing the product on the market 
  • ensuring that an Ingredient Data Sheet is prepared and available on request from NPIC*
  • ensuring that a list of ingredients is made available on website*
  • ensuring  that any surfactants used in the detergent are fully biodegradable, using an accredited laboratory approved by an EU Member State (see readiness notice
  • ensuring that consumer laundry and consumer automatic dishwasher detergents comply with the ban on inorganic phosphates as set out in Article 4a and Annex VIA of the Detergent Regulation.

*For industrial detergents which are not made available to the general public, the above-mentioned requirements do not have to be fulfilled if equivalent information is provided by means of technical data sheets, SDSs, or similar.

Detergents with a biocidal action, e.g. disinfectants, sanitisers, containing biocidal active substances must comply with the Biocidal Products Regulation in addition to complying with the Detergent Regulation. The Pesticide Registration and Control Division (PRCD) of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine are the responsible body for the Biocidal Products Regulation.

To note, from the 1 January 2021, the EU Detergents Regulation will be replaced in Great Britain by the Detergents (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019, which retains the EU laws with respect to Detergents, therefore most regulatory requirements will remain the same. However, EU manufacturers/importers are responsible for, and so must ensure compliance of, all detergents received directly from GB before placing them onto the EU market.

To note, that importers of detergents must also ensure that, where relevant, products comply with the CLP Regulation with regard to classification, labelling and packaging.

Ireland/Northern Ireland Protocol and the implications under the Detergents Regulation

Under the Protocol, the Detergents Regulation applies in respect of Northern Ireland meaning that detergent products traded between Northern Ireland and Ireland must comply with all the rules set out in the Detergents Regulation.

Specific details in relation to test reports and approved laboratories in Northern Ireland are provided in the Commissions Readiness Notice.

Further information: