The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) is launching a campaign designed to prevent disruption in commerce as the European Union's new regulatory system for chemicals begins to be phased in.
The effort, which officially begins on April 14, is targeted at the next quickly approaching milestone in implementation of the EU's law on the Registration, Evaluation & Authorization of Chemicals (REACH). When fully implemented, REACH will require basic safety data on every chemical in EU commerce and will restrict any substance deemed to endanger health or the environment.
Geert Dancet, director of ECHA, visited the U.S. last week to drum up awareness about the REACH preregistration period, which begins June 1. This is the first step in an 11-year process to register the substances currently on the EU market, and it applies to any substance made or imported in amounts of 1 metric ton or more per year. The agency will accept preregistration submissions until Dec. 1 of this year.
As of Dec. 1, companies will not be allowed to sell chemicals in the EU that are not preregistered, the agency warns.
Manufacturers based outside the EU cannot preregister substances. They may, however, select a third-party representative in the EU to carry out preregistration for them.
Companies that file a preregistration document for a chemical can continue making or importing that substance without completing formal registration until November 2010, May 2013, or May 2018. The deadline depends on the toxicity of the substance and on how much of it they manufacture or import, with the earliest deadline for higher production compounds and for chemicals with demonstrated toxicity.
Information required for preregistration includes the name of the substance and an identity code such as a Chemical Abstracts Service Registry Number, the name and address of the company that makes the chemical within the EU or exports it to the EU, and the volume of the substance.
At a news briefing on April 7, Dancet stressed that preregistration is free. He added that ECHA is establishing a help desk to assist companies outside of the EU working through third-party representatives to complete preregistration submissions.