As fiscal year 2015 comes to a close, chemical manufacturers and importers must prepare for a pending deadline. Companies manufacturing or importing chemicals into the European Union, Iceland, Norway, or Liechtenstein in quantities of one ton or more per year; must register those substances with the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA).
Companies have until May 31, 2018 to register existing chemicals under what's known as Registration, Evaluation, Authorization, and restriction of Chemicals (REACH) guidelines.
REACH Chemicals & Deadline
REACH guidelines were implemented to identify the most hazardous chemicals currently on the European market, control risks associated with their use, and encourage their replacement with safer alternatives. REACH requirements have been phased in over an eight-year period, beginning in 2010, based upon the quantity of substances manufactured or imported.
Registration requirements apply to all chemical substances, including those used in industrial processes, as well as consumer products. This means REACH applies to all solvents, paints, fuels, electronic devices, electrical equipment, appliances, and even clothing. The ETUC has earmarked priority chemicals, or a “substance of very high concern” (SVHC), which must have use-authorization before being imported.
- Carcinogens, mutagens and reprotoxins (CMR), classified in category 1 or 2
- Persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic (PBT), and very persistent and very bioaccumulative (vPvB) substances (toxic chemicals that break up slowly or not at all and accumulate in the environment)
- Substances identified on a case-by-case basis as causing serious effects to humans or the environment
Companies are responsible for ensuring their products are in compliance, which requires collaboration with upstream suppliers and downstream customers. If the volume of the manufactured or imported chemical is more than 10 tons per year, employers must assess risks for worker and consumer health, as well as environmental impacts.
Chemical manufacturers and importers must:
- Gather all available information about the properties of the substance
- Share the information with other manufacturers and importers of the same substance
- Determine if co-registrants have all the necessary information for registration
- Submit a registration dossier to the ECHA
- Update Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) if the hazardous properties of the chemical are unavailable
- Use the risk management measures specified on the SDSs
- Inform their suppliers on how the substances will be used
- Supply their own customers with an SDS for the products they manufacture
REACH & GHS Compliance
Many companies must meet compliance regulations for both REACH and the Globally Harmonized System (GHS), as created by the United Nations. While both create international regulations for hazardous chemicals, their goals and regulatory agencies are different. The core goal of REACH is the registration of hazardous substances and to improve their regulation and use. The core goal of GHS is the classification and labeling of hazardous substances for the protection of those who work with them.