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Industry Gripes Over REACH

Europe’s chemicals regulation scheme hits another milestone, fueling complaints

by Alexander H. Tullo
June 7, 2013 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 91, Issue 23

The second major deadline for REACH—an ambitious chemical regulatory regime being rolled out across Europe—has passed, but not without some griping.

Under REACH, which stands for Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation & Restriction of Chemicals, companies must create dossiers of health and environmental information for the chemicals they want to continue to supply.

The May 31 deadline was for chemicals with sales volumes of 100 to 1,000 metric tons per year. Some 3,215 firms have submitted paperwork for registering 2,923 of these substances with the European Chemicals Agency. The industry completed submissions for chemicals with volumes exceeding 1,000 metric tons three years ago.

Advocates say the law is key to ensuring safety of chemicals. But Hubert Mandery, director general of the European Chemical Industry Council, a leading chemical trade group, complained that members consider REACH to be one of the most burdensome pieces of legislation in Europe. “Unfortunately, many small and medium-sized companies have to divert too many research and development resources to comply with it,” he said.

According to the England-based Centre for Strategy & Evaluation Services, REACH cost the industry $2.8 billion to implement through the end of 2011. Europe’s largest chemical producer, BASF, filed some 550 substance dossiers in the second phase. BASF says its cost of compliance through 2018 will be roughly $700 million.


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