Due to global supply chains, evolving regulations, and companies and consumers desiring better transparency, there is a need to make chemical information easier and faster to access. A possible solution to this accessibility issue is the utilization of digital markings (eg QR codes) on chemical labels, since a large portion of the population now have the capability of scanning these markings with a smartphone.
Several governments have recognized the opportunity for digital markings in the regulatory sphere and are either in consultation or have already enacted legislation for this new labelling scheme. For example, the following is a brief summary of some countries that have begun incorporating provisions for digital markings into their regulations:
- Canada has instigated an inter-departmental plan called the Digitalization and Technology-Neutral Regulations Roadmap. One of the proposals for this plan is to utilize digital systems to enhance communication regarding chemical ingredients throughout the supply chain. The proposal is currently in the consultation phase and is scheduled for regulatory review in 2022-2023, with legislative or voluntary tools being released as early as 2023-2024.
- The European Union is consulting on the use of digital labelling for some chemical product categories. Industry feedback has been completed and the initiative is now open for public consultation until February 2022, with commission adoption planned for the fourth quarter of 2022.
- China piloted an online registration platform in Guangdong province over the summer of 2021, and now QR codes are expected to be mandatory on labels nationwide by 2022 to access registration information and SDSs.
- Uzbekistan completed a pilot project between December 2019 and June 2020 with digital product identification markings on certain products. The pilot project was then adopted into law with the Resolution on the Introduction of a Mandatory System of Digital Labeling for Certain Types of Products No. 737 which now requires digital labelling for tobacco and alcoholic beverage products, with implementation dates to be announced for medical products, water and soft drinks, and household appliances. 
Whether or not digital markings are used on a voluntary or legislative basis depending on the regulation, it is expected that some labelling elements will still need to appear on the label. If you are unsure what labelling can be digital under the current regulations, or if you’d like to know more about any upcoming regulations, ask our team at Nexreg how we can help!