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Chemical Regulation

Chemical firms rush to meet final REACH regulation deadline

Products made in volumes between 1 and 100 metric tons must be registered by May 31

by Alex Scott
May 24, 2018 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 96, Issue 22

Companies that produce chemicals in Europe in volumes of 1 to 100 metric tons per year are scrambling to meet the May 31 deadline for registering them under Europe’s Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation & Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) chemical safety regulation. This third and final phase of REACH follows deadlines for registering higher-volume chemicals in 2010 and 2013.

For the latest phase, the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) says it has received 27,831 safety data submissions covering 9,180 substances as of May 23. “We are still expecting a sharp increase in submissions in the remaining days,” ECHA says.

There was a 33% uptick in submissions in the weeks prior to the May 31 deadline, ECHA says. Overall, the number of chemical products registered is 20–30% less than the agency had been predicting.

Still, there is little evidence at this time that companies will stop making small-volume products in order to avoid REACH costs, says Erwin Annys, director of REACH for the European Chemical Industry Council, Europe’s largest chemical industry association. “Everyone is working like hell to get everything done,” he says.

BASF concurs and says it does not anticipate any disruption to its supply chains as a result of the latest REACH phase. The large German firm estimates that it has spent almost $60 million per year for the past 10 years complying with REACH.

Meanwhile, the U.K.’s Chemical Industries Association is concerned that its members may not be in compliance with REACH after the U.K. officially leaves the European Union on March 29, 2019. “When we talk to ECHA and the EU, the word is still ‘in March you leave, and you don’t enjoy the same membership rights,’ ” says CIA’s CEO Stephen Elliott.

Many other companies won’t be done dealing with REACH on June 1 either, warns Cándido García Molyneux, an environmental law attorney with Covington & Burling. Molyneux anticipates ongoing disputes between REACH registrants over sharing the cost of developing chemical safety data. Up to 500 disputes are currently active, Annys says.


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