UK aerosol regulations

Written on: January 1, 2024 by Patrick Heskins

Governments and regulators often consult with stakeholders about legislation, but it’s not often Industry is specifically asked how regulations could be improved to make “life easier.” However, this is just what is happening in the UK.

The Office for Product Safety & Standards (OPSS), which sits within the Dept. for Business & Trade (DBT), recently carried out a consultation on the regulations it has responsibility for. These include the General Product Safety Regulations and individual products sectors as diverse as fireworks and lifts (elevators). OPSS also has responsibility for UK Aerosol Dispenser Regulations.

In addition to a general consultation, the British Aerosol Manufacturers’ Association (BAMA) was invited to review the UK Aerosol Dispenser Regulations and make suggestions on how these might be changed to make them simpler for UK manufacturers when looking to meet safety requirements for an aerosol package. For those who aren’t aware, the basis for the UK regulations is the EU Aerosol Dispensers Directive. The original text for this Directive was written in 1975; although there have been several updates over the years, the basic tenet of these regulations has barely changed. After all, it’s all about making sure consumers have safe products.

BAMA decided to take a step back and look at the questions we are most frequently asked by our member companies. We then thought about how the regulations might be changed to either make them simpler to understand or to reduce the burden on Industry when meeting these regulatory demands. Any of the ideas we came up with were always viewed from the perspective of either maintaining or improving product safety for the consumer.

Our list covered a multitude of ideas, from the regulations around plastic aerosols, through comparted packs, refillable systems and the alternative to the water bath. Having discussed these with Industry, and agreed on priorities, we then presented our short list to the civil servants at OPSS. Our top three were:

1. See how the UK might recognize aerosol regulations from other regions (for example, those used in the U.S.) and create reciprocal agreements for those regions to recognize the UK Conformity Assessed mark (UKCA) as safe for sale in those markets. This will be complicated by chemical and sectoral regulations, but a subject we believe is worth exploring.

2. Allow aerosols greater than 220mL to carry the UKCA mark. Although plastic aerosols larger than 220mL are allowed to be sold in the UK, they are “non-relevant” with regard to the UK Aerosol Dispenser Regulations, so are usually sold as conforming with a very old British standard. This would mean plastic aerosols would have to meet the same standards as those for metal containers before they can be placed on the market.

3. Review and consider if there are products that do not need to be 100% water bath tested, or 100% tested via the approved alternative. Pressure and leak testing, whether in a water bath or using the alternative, are about safety for transport and for the consumer. It may be, for certain products, that the water bath is more of a quality check than a safety test.

Government was happy to listen and were impressed with the engagement from Industry when we met with them. We now wait to see what the next steps will be in what we were told was a once-in-a-10-year opportunity to update our industry’s regulations. SPRAY