REACH [2 MB] stands for the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals. It introduces new marketing rules, covering substances, mixtures and articles and makes business responsible for the management of risks that chemicals may pose to health and environment.
You may not manufacture, market, import or use a chemical substance in the EU if it has not been registered in the REACH database.
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 EU.
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 for onwards sale or finished products, like clothes, furniture or plastic goods from outside the EU
- Distributor/retailer: you store and place on the market chemicals or articles containing hazardous chemicals for further processing or for selling directly to consumers
- Downstream user: you handle any chemicals 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.
How does REACH work?
REACH makes industry bear most responsibilities to manage the risks posed by chemicals and provide 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) 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. For substances that have long been on the market and re-registered on time, it is organised in three phases with deadlines on 10 December 2010, 31 May 2013 and 31 May 2018.
Under evaluation , ECHA examines the quality 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 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.
When you register the substances as a manufacturer or importer, you have to demonstrate to ECHA how the substance can be safely used, and communicate the risk management measures in the supply chain. If your company is a downstream user, you do not have to register, but have other obligations.
Most important is that 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 and charges. Furthermore, your company has to take into account all other (in)direct costs related to REACH, such as data sharing, socio-economic analysis, 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.
Dig deeper, country by country: