Phase 1 of REACH Registration Closed
A large proportion of the total volume of chemicals produced and used in the EU, as well as the most dangerous chemicals, have now been registered at the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA).
As a result of REACH, European industry will possess more in-depth knowledge of the potentially hazardous effects of the chemicals they are dealing with. Under the REACH system companies cannot place a chemical substance they manufacture or import on the EU market unless it has been registered with ECHA within the applicable deadline.
The first registration deadline, 30 November 2010, is an important milestone for the new EU chemicals policy. This deadline applied to the most hazardous substances (e.g. those that are carcinogenic, mutagenic or toxic for reproduction) manufactured or imported in quantities of 1 tonne or more per year per company, substances very toxic to the aquatic environment manufactured or imported in quantities of 100 tonnes or more per year per company and substances manufactured or imported above 1 000 tonnes per year.
24675 files were submitted to ECHA by the 30 November deadline. Industry is to be commended for making considerable efforts in order to prepare chemical risk assessments on time. ECHA will now proceed with the checking of the files to ensure that all requirements have been met. A large number of companies have already raised their safety standards as a result of the registration process, according to industry. This results in safer use of chemicals that are produced or imported in high volumes, or which present specific hazards, such as chemicals that are dangerous for human health or the environment. Although the current deadline mainly affected chemicals produced or imported in the highest volumes, a number of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises have participated in this exercise, accounting for around 10% of registrations. As SMEs are also users of chemicals, they will benefit from the newly gathered safety information too.
The situation will continue to improve as information gathered through this process is passed down the supply chains. The benefits of REACH will affect businesses and consumers alike with the industry’s shared knowledge providing increased safety standards in both working conditions and goods. The environment will also profit due to less chemical pollution.
This is only the beginning of a process: there are two further registration deadlines in 2013 and 2018 for chemicals produced or imported in lower volumes. The Commission will examine the lessons learned from the first registration phase to allow as smooth a process as possible for future registration deadlines.
The main aims of REACH (Regulation No 1907/2006), which entered into force in 2007, are to ensure a high level of protection of human health and the environment from the risks that can be posed by chemicals, the promotion of alternative test methods, the free circulation of substances on the internal market and enhancing competitiveness and innovation.
REACH makes industry responsible for assessing and managing the risks posed by chemicals and providing appropriate safety information to their users. In parallel, the European Union can take additional measures on highly dangerous substances, where there is a need for complementing action at EU level.
Registration is one of the key elements of risk management in REACH. The process began on 1 June 2008 and it is staggered across three different deadlines – 2010, 2013, and 2018. One of the principles laid down by REACH is that companies that do not register the substance they manufacture or import cannot place it on the EU market.