Britain's views on EU chemical legislation released.

Britain’s views on EU chemical legislation released.

’One substance, one registration’ is the UK government’s mantra when it comes to suggested changes to the EU’s draft legislation for the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation, and Restriction of Chemicals (Reach).

The government’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Department of Trade and Industry have launched a consultation paper which provides details of an initial UK government view on the European Commission’s Reach proposals, in some areas outlining a preferred UK approach.

The current draft legislation requires each manufacturer or importer of a substance in quantities of over one tonne pa to register independently with the scheme. However, the UK government considers that this could ’overload the system with registrations, resulting in an additional cost to industry and an additional bureaucratic burden for the European Chemicals Agency and member states’. It has instead proposed an alternative system whereby all organisations that wish to register for Reach would ’share data on an equitable basis’. The idea is that companies would submit jointly parts of the registration dossier to achieve ’one registration per substance’. Defra considers that such a scheme would reduce workload, minimise animal testing and create a level playing field for all registrants, including late entrants to the EU market.

The paper estimates that implementing Reach as it stands could cost the UK industry over ?515m over a period of 11 years. However, introducing a one-substance one registration clause would reduce this cost to around ?505m, it predicts.

Paul Whitehead, chairman of the RSC’s Environment, Health and Safety Committee, told Chemistry World that the committee supports the one substance, one registration idea. He explains how, under current Reach proposals, companies would have to list a registration number against each ingredient on safety data sheets. By doing this, firms would inadvertently provide their customers with supplier information which should be confidential, he said. Whitehead described the current draft legislation as an ’administrative nightmare’.

The Chemical Industries Association (CIA) also supports, in principle, the idea of one substance, one registration, because it would minimise the amount of animal testing, a spokesperson said. However, the CIA would not want the scheme to be mandatory, to allow companies to register substances separately where there are real reasons for doing so, he said. Many companies, particularly small to medium-sized enterprises, consider that a one substance one registration system would raise confidentiality concerns, he noted.

The consultation closes on 25 June 2004. The paper can be obtained from the Defra website.

Emma Davies