Data on thousands more chemicals submitted under Reach regulations
The second deadline for European companies to submit manufacturing, import and safety data to authorities passed on 31 May. The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) received information on nearly 3000 chemicals that are produced or imported into the EU on scales between 100 and 1000 tonnes per year, as part of the Reach (registration, evaluation and authorisation of chemicals) programme.
Geert Dancet, executive director of the ECHA, said that ‘overall, the registration process worked well and industry responded actively to the deadline’. However, he pointed out that a significant number of dossiers were submitted in the final days, and even hours, leading up to the midnight deadline, placing unnecessary pressure on the agency.
This registration deadline covers chemicals that were on the market before 2008 and had been pre-registered at the beginning of the Reach process (chemicals introduced after that date must be fully registered immediately). Only around two-thirds of the 3103 chemicals that the ECHA expected to be registered by this deadline have been. Unregistered chemicals cannot be sold in the EU.
The ECHA suggests a number of reasons for this discrepancy. Perhaps companies were overcautious, and pre-registered products that then were not produced or imported in volumes high enough to qualify for this deadline (chemicals used in quantities between 1 and 10 tonnes per year have until 2018 to be registered). Some chemicals may also have been withdrawn from the market, although the ECHA says this has not been signalled to them by the industry. The agency will now seek clarification from companies that were expected to register the missing compounds. On the other hand, over 800 chemicals were registered that the ECHA had not expected at this deadline.
While Dancet congratulated both companies and the ECHA on their work so far, Karsten Müller, head of chemical regulations at German chemical giant BASF, said that there was still a lot that could be improved in the registration process. ‘In the third phase of registration, with a significantly higher number of substances to be registered, more small and medium-sized enterprises are going to have to convert to Reach – many of them approaching it for the first time,’ Müller said. ‘Bureaucracy should be kept to the essential minimum for everyone involved.’