REACH stands for the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals. It introduces new marketing rules, covering substances, mixtures and substances in articles and makes business responsible for the management of risks that chemicals may pose to health and environment.
If you manufacture or import a chemical substance in the EEA in quantities of one tonne per year or more, you have to register it in the REACH database. Substances which have not been registered may not be marketed or used.
In principle, REACH applies to all substances, not only those in industrial processes but also in our day-to-day lives, for example in cleaning products, paints as well as in articles such as clothes, furniture and electrical appliances. Therefore, the regulation has an impact on most companies across the EEA.
REACH applies to you if your company is a:
- Manufacturer: you make chemicals, either to sell by your company or to supply to others
- Importer: you buy individual chemicals, mixtures or products, like clothes, furniture or plastic goods from outside the EU
- Distributor: you store and place on the market chemicals or mixtures
- Downstream user: you use chemicals or mixtures in your industrial or professional activity
Use ECHA Navigator to identify your role and obligations under REACH or any exemptions that may apply for your company. The booklet 'Chemical safety in your business' gives a good overview of company roles and requirements under REACH, Classification, Labelling and Packaging and the Biocidal Products Regulation.
How does REACH work?
REACH makes industry bear the responsibility for managing the risks posed by chemicals and for providing appropriate safety information to their users in the supply chain. In parallel, it foresees that the European Union can take additional measures, where there is a need for complementing action at EU level.
REACH also established the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) in Helsinki, Finland with a central coordination and implementation role.
The registration is compulsory for substances manufactured or imported in quantities of one tonne or more a year per company before they can be manufactured or imported. For substances that have long been on the market and that manufacturers or importers pre-registered by respective deadlines, the registration is organised in three phases with deadlines on 30 November 2010, 31 May 2013 and 31 May 2018.
Under evaluation, ECHA examines the compliance of information in the registration dossiers and all testing proposals to ensure that unnecessary testing, especially on animals, is avoided. Member States evaluate substances for specific concerns that affect human health and the environment.
Authorisation is required for certain substances of very high concern to ensure that risks from them are properly controlled, and such substances are progressively substituted by safer alternatives when these are economically and technically viable.
Restriction can limit or ban the production, placing on the market (marketing) or use of certain substances if they pose an unacceptable risk to health or the environment.
How do I comply with REACH?
This depends mainly on the role of your company, whether it is a manufacturer, importer, supplier or user of chemical substances, mixtures or articles containing certain chemical substances. To comply with the regulation, you must identify and manage the risks linked to the substances you manufacture and market in the EU/EEA.
As a manufacturer or importer, when you register the substances you have to demonstrate to ECHA how the substance can be safely used, and communicate the risk management measures via a safety data sheet in the supply chain.
If your company is a downstream user, you do not have to register, but you have other obligations. Mainly you have to implement the risk management measures from the safety data sheets, take care that your uses are covered in the registration dossiers and communicate with your suppliers and users in the supply chain.
How much does it cost?
REACH requires the payment of fees and charges. The amount and deadlines depend on the type of submission under consideration. SMEs pay reduced fees. Furthermore, your company has to take into account other costs related to REACH, such as data sharing, chemical safety assessments and research of substitutes for substances. Good cooperation with other actors can significantly reduce your costs. This requires good preparation and sufficient time.
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