REACH Regulations and Compliance Explained

REACH is a European Union Regulation concerning the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals. REACH regulations aim to give industries greater knowledge about the chemicals they use and ultimately this contributes to the prevention of health problems caused by exposure to chemicals.

Reach Regulations, which came into force on 1st June 2007, were adopted because many thousands of chemicals are used within the EU, but the risks to human health and the environment from many of these are not widely known. REACH regulations intend to address this by making manufacturers, importers and distributors responsible for understanding and managing the risks associated with their use.

What is the scope of REACH Regulations and Compliance?

REACH covers all chemical substances manufactured in, or imported into the EU in quantities of 1 tonne per year or more. Registration under REACH is for substances only, however, the provisions of the regulation apply to the manufacture, placing on the market or use of substances on their own, in preparations or in articles.

What are the different stages of the REACH process?

Registration

Manufacturers or importers will need to register any substance they supply to the EU market above 1 tonne per year

Evaluation

The ECHA will carry out annual in-depth evaluations (i.e. assessments) of substances flagged as being of potential high risk (e.g. on the basis of information provided at registration)

Authorisation

The uses of substances of very high concern (SVHCs – go to our SVHC list and Reach regulations page for more information ), e.g. CMRs (carcinogens, mutagens, and toxic to reproduction), PBTs (persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic), and vPvBs (very persistent, very bioaccumulative) will require authorisation

What is the candidate list?

The candidate list is a step in the REACH authorisation process. It is an SVHC list nominated by the European Commission or by the member states and decided upon by the ECHA after public consultation. The candidate list can constitute a requirement list for consumers and retailers. When asked by a consumer whether a certain product contains a substance listed on the SHVC list, the retailer has a legal obligation under REACH Regulations to comply.

How do I comply with REACH Regulations?

Manufacturers, Importers, Distributors, Retailers and Downstream users all have responsibilities under REACH. In addition to this, substances, preparations and articles are subject to different provisions under REACH. Meanwhile, non-EU companies and EU companies also have different obligations.
In brief, under REACH manufacturers and importers must register, with the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), each substance manufactured or imported in quantities of more than 1 tonne per year and Downstream users’ will have a range of obligations under REACH legislation which primarily relate to ensuring the safe use of the chemical product, as well as providing information and documents to further downstream customers. This will mean that your products will need to be tested at an independent laboratory in order to ensure REACH compliance.

Why do I need to comply with REACH Regulations?

It is a criminal offence to fail to comply with REACH regulations. Regardless, of your position within the supply chain you will have legal responsibilities under this legislation. Enforcement decisions are made on a case by case basis with compulsory measures ranging from withdrawal of products from the market and import rejections through to fines and even imprisonment.