Chemical control legislation, like the REACH and CLP-directives, applies to almost all substances – even if not hazardous – that are placed on the European market; not only those used industrial processes but also for end-consumer use, for example in cleaning products, paints or even articles such as clothes. If you manufacture or import substances into the European Union you might have duties to observe.
Impact of REACH on companies
REACH impacts on a wide range of companies across many sectors, even those who may not think of themselves as being involved with chemicals.
To comply with the REACH regulation, companies must identify and manage the risks linked to the substances they manufacture or market in the EU. REACH places the burden of proof on companies. They have to demonstrate to the European Chemical Agency (ECHA) how the substances can be safely used, and they must communicate the risk management measures to the users.
Every manufacturer or importer of substances above 1 to/year (with a few exemptions) must submit a registration dossier to ECHA to legally place the products on the market – latest by 2018. Additionally, if a substance of very high concern (SVHC) – e.g. carcinogenic or bio-accumulative – is contained in an article above 0.1 % (w/w), a notification to ECHA is required or proof has to be shown that exposure of the substance can be excluded.
In general, under REACH you may have one of these roles:
Manufacturer: If you make chemicals, either to use yourself or to supply to other people (even if it is for export), then you will probably have some important responsibilities under REACH.
Importer: If you buy anything from outside the EU/EEA, you are likely to have some responsibilities under REACH. It may be individual chemicals, mixtures for onwards sale or finished products, like clothes, furniture or plastic goods.
Downstream users: Most companies use chemicals, sometimes even without realising it, therefore you need to check your obligations if you handle any chemicals in your industrial or professional activity. You might have some responsibilities under REACH.
Companies established outside the EU: If you are a company established outside the EU, you are not bound by the obligations of REACH, even if you export their products into the customs territory of the European Union. The responsibility for fulfilling the requirements of REACH, such as pre-registration or registration lies with the importers established in the European Union, or with the only representative of a non-EU manufacturer established in the European Union.
Impact of CLP on companies
If you are a supplier of chemicals, you must classify, label and package your substances and mixtures in accordance with the CLP Regulation. Your obligations depend upon your role in the supply chain.
Suppliers may have one or more of these roles:
- Manufacturer of substances or mixtures
- Importer of substances or mixtures
- Producer of specific articles
- Downstream user, including formulator and re-importer
- Distributor, including retailer
If you place a hazardous substance on the market, you must notify ECHA of its classification and labeling within one month of placing the substance on the market for the first time. For importers, the one month is counted from the day when a substance, on its own or contained in a mixture, is physically introduced in the customs territory of the EU.