REACH - Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of CHemicals(Regulation (EC) No. 1907/2006)
REACH aims to ensure that the risks posed by the use of chemicals are assessed, documented, minimised and communicated and that unsafe substances are replaced with safe substances. It places the responsibility for assessing chemicals with manufacturers and importers, under the aegis of the European Chemicals Agency, and tasks users with ensuring that they inform upstream suppliers about the uses of chemicals and pass relevant information downstream to other users.
Many businesses rely on chemicals to operate, but may not realise it. Examples used by businesses on a day-to-day basis include machinery oils, cleaning products, printer inks and toners, paints, glues, solvents etc. REACH applies to ALL chemicals, not just those used as chemicals in industrial processes. REACH only applies to the chemicals within products not to the products themselves.
All businesses within the supply chain are ‘users’ of sort or another. Any organisation can have several different roles, and therefore different obligations, under REACH.
Users are defined as:
Downstream Users: Most other businesses, There are sub-categories of users for formulators, end-users, article producers, re-fillers, re-importers and importers with an ‘only representative’;
Importers: Those who buy chemicals outside of the EU/EEA and bring them into EU customs territory;
Manufacturers:Those who make chemicals;
Only Representatives: Registrant appointed by an importer/non-EU manufacturer to act on their behalf.
Substances, and uses, not complying with REACH will not be able to be traded or used without either a pre-registration or a full registration.
The restriction on uses is very important if you are using a product in a unique or innovative way. Unless your use has been approved by the registration date for that substance, you will not be able to use it. Registration dates vary depending on substance and quantity.
Registration is currently in Phase 2, meaning that registrations are currently underway for substances supplied at 100 tonnes per annum or more. Phase 3, for substances where production is 1 tonne or more per annum, starts on 1 June 2018.
Some chemicals are known to cause human health and/or environmental problems and these substances are a particular focus. Known as Substances of Very High Concern (or SVHC’s) these chemicals are under investigation for inclusion on a Candidate List, leading to eventual authorisation or restrictions on use of these chemicals. The Candidate List currently has 169 substances on it and was last updated in June 2016. The Authorisation list, the next stage in the process, has 31 substances on it. These substances are subject to specific use authorisation, without which it will become illegal to use the substance. A further 61 substances are already restricted or prohibited under REACH. The latest lists can be accessed on the ECHA website.
1 - IDENTIFY
Any chemical that is present in any product which you use within your business.
2 - DECIDE
What kind of user of chemicals you are, remember that you could be a distributor of one chemical and a downstream user of another.
3 - REVIEW
The status of all chemicals you identified in step 1.
4 - ESTABLISH
Your obligations for each of those chemicals
5 - CREATE
Create full upstream and downstream communications channels.