How is REACH Compliance helping us?
Reach compliance: Our ancestors lived in a world where most human needs, material needs, were met by the natural world through wood, metals, and other resources that were extracted from the natural environment.
Today, we live in a very different world, where nearly everything, if you look around yourself, is in some way derived from industrial chemicals. Everything consists of chemical substances-what we eat, what we wear, our transport, the technology we use, how we treat illnesses, the list goes on and on.
Materials that are manufactured from or with the aid of chemical products are replacing, to an increasing degree, the natural materials found in articles, such as wood, metal, and leather. In the past few decades, overall chemical production in the world has increased more than fifty times
Chemicals can be classified mainly into 3 types on the basis of its origin:
- Chemicals that occur naturally in the environment, and may be found in our air, water, food, and homes.
- Man-made chemical substances or synthetic chemical that are used in everyday products from medicines to computers to fabrics and fuels.
- Other chemicals are not made deliberately but are by-products of various chemical processes.
Not all chemical substances are hazardous but some chemicals have the potential to cause harm, in certain amounts, and should only be used when the potential risks are appropriately managed. The reason chemicals come across as a dangerous substance is because they can enter the air, water, and soil when they are produced, used or disposed of.
Given the huge increase in the volume of chemicals produced worldwide, an important starting point for understanding the hazards that chemicals might pose to the environment and human health is to get a sense of which chemical and how many are produced and used in society.
But it turns out that this is not an easy question to answer. According to Environmental Law Institute, the volume of chemicals in commerce increased exponentially during the 20th century, in just the 25 years between 1970 and 1995, the number of chemicals produced synthetically almost tripled from about 50 million tons to approximately 150 million tons.
The first signs of European co-operation in this area date back to 1967 in a directive relating to the classification, packaging, and labeling of dangerous substances on the approximation of laws, regulations and administrative provisions.
The European Union (EU) came up with a regulatory initiative for the Registration, Evaluation, Authorization, and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) in 2006. There were numerous reasons for the promulgation of REACH but, by and the large following was the main concern:
- Extension of the global desire to produce fewer industrial chemicals
- Understand the possible human and ecological hazards of those chemicals that are produced
- Ensure that any major threat is anticipated, as well as prevented.
REACH compliance applies to you if you are:
- A manufacturer: If you make chemicals for sale or if you are a chemical supplier.
- An Importer: If you are a buyer of individual chemicals or a mixture of chemicals from outside the EU.
- A Distributor: If you place chemicals or mixture of chemicals in the EU market
- A Downstream User: If you use chemicals or a mixture of chemicals in your Industry.
Reach compliance Scope and Exemptions
REACH compliance is applicable to substances that are manufactured or imported in EU in quantities of 1 tonne per year or more than 1 tonne. It covers the substances as they are, substances in a preparation, or substances used in an item which is manufactured in EU or Imported to EU.
Some substances are specifically excluded:
- Radioactive substances
- Substances under customs supervision
- Non-isolated intermediates
- Some naturally occurring low-hazard substances
How REACH Compliance works?
Registration: Prior registration is compulsory if a company intends to manufacture or import a tonne or more per year of a particular substance. This must be demonstrated in a registration dossier submitted to the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA). Without registration, substances cannot be manufactured or imported into the EU.
Evaluation: European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) examines Information in the Registration dossiers as part of evaluation so that unnecessary testing on animals can be avoided.
Authorisation: The substances of Very High Concern(SVHC), which are mentioned in Annex XIV, will not be allowed to be used, placed on the EU market or imported into the EU after a date (the so-called ‘sunset date’) unless the company is granted an authorization for the specific use(s).
Restrictions: EU countries or the European Commission can limit or ban the production, marketing or use of certain substances if they pose an unacceptable risk to health or the environment.
Two of the registration deadlines have already passed in 2010 and 2013.
The last date to register for REACH is 31 May 2018 concerning substances that are manufactured in or imported into the EU above one tonne per company per year. All companies concerned should start their preparation now!