What is REACH?

In order to protect human health and the environment against various types of dangers, the European Union imposes a number of obligations on industry to limit the risk of their occurrence. One of the sets of such ordinances is the REACH Regulation. How does it affect the chemical industry? What does it oblige manufacturers of chemical substances to do? You can read all about it in the article below.

Published: 1-04-2022

Main rules of the REACH Regulation

The REACH Regulation concerns Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals. If the company produces or imports at least one tonne of chemical per year within the EEA (European Economic Area), it needs to report that fact to the REACH database. Substances that are not registered cannot be placed on the market or used. The regulation applies both to chemicals that are necessary for industrial processes, and also to those that we use every day.

The provisions imposed by REACH concern:

  • producers, who produce chemicals, but also sell them directly or supply them to other companies,
  • importers, who buy single substances, mixtures or finished articles, such as plastic articles, furniture or clothes outside of the European Union,
  • distributors responsible for the storage and subsequent placing of chemicals on the market,
  • users, who use chemicals or mixtures of chemical substances in their work or production process.

REACH is responsible for the new rules that allow single substances, mixtures of substances or those used in products to be placed on the market. These rules and related regulations are intended to ensure that industry is responsible for:

  • management of all kinds of health and environmental risks related to the use of chemicals,
  • providing detailed safety information for all supply chain users.

How does REACH work?

The REACH Regulation establishes procedures that require the collection and evaluation of information about the properties and hazards of chemicals. Companies register with ECHA (European Chemicals Agency). This is where individual registrations are accepted and assessed for compliance, whereas EU member states evaluate selected chemicals to clarify initial concerns about risks to human health and the environment. Scientific committees and ECHA bodies evaluate whether the risk management of these substances is acceptable. If it is not, the competent authorities may impose a ban on the use of the hazardous substances. It is also possible only to limit their use or make it conditional on prior special consent.

Functions of companies under the REACH Regulation

The REACH Regulation has an impact on the functioning of companies from many different sectors, not only chemical.

REACH gives companies the possibility of fulfilling one of the following roles:

  • producer – manufacturer of chemicals for personal use or other people’s use (including export),
  • importer – companies purchasing goods from outside of the EU/EEA are likely to be subject to some of the obligations under the regulation. They may also concern single chemicals, mixtures or finished products intended for further sale,
  • downstream users – people who, in their industrial or professional activities, come into contact with chemicals and are obliged to check which of the REACH regulations apply to them,
  • enterprises based outside of the EU – these are companies that do not have obligations under REACH, even when exporting their products to the customs territory of the European Union. In this case, the registration obligations resulting from the regulation are transferred to importers based in the European Union or to the sole representative of a non-EU manufacturer based in the European Union.

Any regulations resulting from the REACH Regulation and the compliance by companies is a key condition for protect against the adverse effects of chemicals on human health and the environment. The educational value that allows the safe use of chemicals that are important for the functioning of the entire industry plays an important role here.

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