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Mar 12

Regulation update: Substance bans under the REACH regime are gathering momentum

Susanne Barker, senior climate and environment policy advisor at EEF alerts manufacturers to latest implications of REACH for manufacturers and stresses that it is not only those in the chemical sector that need to have concerns.

In late December 2011, The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) recommended that a further 13 substances were banned from use under European Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and restriction of Chemical Legislation (REACH). By the end of this year, the European Commission wants the Agency to review nearly 250 substances for widespread bans. If you think this wont affect your business, you may need to think again.

The latest substances put forward by ECHA include trichloroethylene, used in specialist cleaning, a number of chromium compounds used in electroplating, ceramic glazes and coloured glass as well as some cobalt compounds which are used to make catalysts, batteries, in surface treatments and in the manufacturing of pigments. Even if you don't directly use any of these substances, you may still be affected if they are used further up your supply chain.

If the European Commission agrees that the substances should be banned, manufacturers must seek permission to use the substances for "essential" applications.

This process is complex, expensive and uncertain. While it is possible to submit an application with others it will cost €50,000 just to submit an application form (with additional fees if there are several applicants) and you will need to demonstrate that you are either adequately controlling the risks to human health and the environment  or that the socioeconomic benefits from using the substance outweighs the potential risks. Even if you are granted permission to use that substance in a specified way, the Commission will review its decision every 18 months.

If that wasn't enough to assimilate, you will also have only a narrow window of time in which to seek permission to use the substance. So far, sunset dates (the date from which use of a substance or its placing on the market will be prohibited) have been announced between 42-54 months after the Commission has made a formal announcement of its decision. Applications must be submitted 18 months ahead of the ban.

Before a substance is banned it is placed on a candidate list of substances of very high concern (SVHC) - inclusion of a substance on this list in itself prompts a number of obligations for manufacturers.

While many manufacturers have glossed over REACH, thinking it's an issue for the chemical industry, the process is clearly of importance to all manufacturers. In fact we at EEF think the issue is so important we developed an e-alert service to help you stay on top of developments. The service is free and open to all manufacturers so that our members and their supply chains can keep on top of the issue.

EEF will let you know when a substance is being considered for listing, when it is on the list and when it is being considered or announced for a ban. EEF will let you know when ECHA is seeking industry views to inform its decision making and will also let you know when substances are being considered for bans for a specific use - referred to as a restriction under REACH.

For more information and to sign up to alerts, go here

Copyright 2012