Time to prepare for the REACH deadline, says chemicals firm

The deadline for the final phase of implementation of the EU’s REACH regulation is 1 June 2018, making it a time when many firms will be – or should be – making preparations and potentially re-evaluating their chemical consumption, according to speciality chemicals firm Airedale Chemical.

REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals) covers all chemicals used within the EU – both on their own or as part of formulas – and covers all applications including industrial and consumer sectors.

The aim is for all chemicals imported into the EU or European Economic Area to be registered, tested and authorised by the ECHA (European Chemicals Agency) and it is likely to affect businesses of all sizes in almost all industries.

Elaine O’Neill, market manager for surfactants at Airedale Chemical is advising waste management businesses to address the issue sooner rather than later in order to ensure continued and smooth-running operations: “REACH does not discriminate and applies to small businesses just as it does to large and multi-national companies. Although there are a few exceptions in the case of some substances such as waste, radioactive material and those used in the interests of defense, almost everything else is likely to be affected in some way by REACH regulations.

“Some chemical suppliers are likely to decide against applying for REACH approval due to financial or time restraints so it would be a mistake to assume your supplier will be registering the substances you rely on. Now is the time to check if your supplier intends to continue with its full repertoire of chemicals in order to keep your operations running seamlessly.

It’s essential to be prepared to make changes in your process or even investigate whether you could consolidate your chemical usage making it more economical and streamlined. We recommend taking the following steps to ensure your business remains compliant:

• Ensure the chemicals you buy have a registration number where required
• If no number is available, check the ECHA database for registration status
• Do not presume your supplier will register all your regular products and ask for confirmation that it is being handled, or that it is exempt
• Investigate if your chemical supplies can be sourced from an alternative, REACH registered supplier
• Can your mixtures be made up with alternative substances? If so, look into formulations which are not reliant on chemicals affected by REACH

Although June 2018 is set as the final deadline it is likely that REACH will remain an important issue and an evolving matter for some time and the key to maintaining a smooth-running operation will be two-way communication throughout the supply chain between upstream and downstream users.

Ongoing updates and guidance on REACH are available at the website of the ECHA.