REACH

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REACH

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Introduction
The EU chemicals policy has been reformed for the following reasons: with the new EU legislation on chemicals in place (abbreviated as REACH), the chemical industry recognises its responsibilities to ensure the protection of human health and the environment, whilst delivering good economic performance and meeting the expectations of the market. The Dutch government understands the position of the chemical industry, and all other companies dealing with chemicals, and provides guidance through a helpdesk, tools and close cooperation with organisations in the industrial sector.

REACH is the Regulation (1907/2006/EC) for Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and restriction of Chemicals. It entered into force on 1 June 2007 to streamline and improve the European Union's legislative framework on chemicals. REACH places greater responsibility on industry to manage and reduce the risks that chemicals may pose to health and the environment. REACH also has an additional objective: to assure the free movement of chemicals within the EU market and to enhance innovation and the competitiveness of the EU-based chemical industry.

The REACH Regulation gives greater responsibility to the industry to manage the risks from chemicals and to provide safety information on the substances. Manufacturers and importers will be required to gather and assess information on the properties of their chemical substances and on exposure from their use, which will allow their safe handling, and to register their chemical substances by submitting registration dossiers to the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) in Helsinki. The Regulation also calls for the progressive substitution of the most dangerous chemicals when suitable alternatives have been identified. Non-phase-in (new) substances will have to be registered prior to manufacture or import into the EU.

Adoption of REACH
From 1 June 2007, REACH came into effect for new substances and will be gradually implemented for existing substances. For phase-in (existing) substances, a staggered registration procedure has been established with three deadlines: 1 December 2010, 1 June 2013 and 1 June 2018.

The requirements on safety data sheets also came into effect. REACH will be implemented in phases as this is a time-consuming task with a lot of stakeholders involved. Until 1 June 2008 there is a transition period during which current complementary legislation and regulations remain in place. From 1 June 2008 most REACH requirements will come into effect. On that date, the Chemical Substances Act (WMS) of the Netherlands will be replaced in full by the REACH requirements. The execution and enforcement will be arranged according to chapter nine of the Environmental Protection Law. This means that REACH will also be part of the environmental permit from 1 June 2008 onward. On 1 June 2009 the Substances Restrictions Act in the Netherlands will be abolished.

Obligations for manufacturer, importer or downstream user of chemicals or distributor
REACH focuses on all manufacturers and downstream users of chemicals as well as importers and distributors involved with chemical products in any way. Under REACH, your company may play various roles depending on the types of substances you use and your participation in the life cycle of the substances. You may be a manufacturer or importer of one chemical and a downstream user for another. In short, REACH comprises the following steps:

  • Pre-registration and exchange of information
  • Registration of substances
  • Evaluation by the relevant authorities
  • Authorisation by the relevant authorities

REACH requirements are stricter on manufacturers and importers than on downstream users and distributors:

  • Manufacturers and importers intending to place substances (or substances in preparation) on the EU market are required to collect data on physical-chemical, toxicological and eco-toxicological properties in order to participate in the required registration process. The amount of data will depend on the anticipated or actual annual production or import volume, the characteristics of the substance involved, and the intended use of the substances, as well as the extent to which and how people or the environment may be exposed to those substances.
  • Downstream users and distributors are required to communicate information on use and exposure risks to producers/importers and pass on information regarding risks to health and the environment in the supply chain. They must also take actions in implementing risk reduction measures.

REACH process
The REACH process is shown in the following graph:

REACH proces

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