REACHing for Better Risk Management: Europe`s new chemical regulatory regime

This article is for all of those wondering whether or not you need to react to the impacts of European Union’s REACH chemical legislation (hint: absolutely!). While some wonder how stiff the fines might be for non-compliance with the new rules, they miss the point: their markets and their very businesses are at risk! Understanding and getting familiar is a good first step for you.

1. What is REACH all about?
European Union Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006 outlines the obligations concerning REACH – which stands for Registration / Restriction, Evaluation and Authorization of CHemicals manufactured in, or imported to, the European Union (REACH Regulation).

The Regulation is the most recent and most acute example of the globalization of the European Union’s (EU) environment, health & safety legislation. Although the Regulation can only be legally enforced in the 27 member countries of the EU, in reality REACH’s application will extend much further to every country in the world. Since any trade in chemicals with the EU from outside of EU will be scrutinized for compliance with its requirements.

REACH marks a paradigm shift, as it makes the chemical industry responsible for placing only safely manufactured products on the market. Before REACH, public authorities had to show that a chemical was dangerous. This is, to date, the most far reaching application of the precautionary principle, which guides an ever-increasing amount of EU legislation.

The REACH Regulation entered into force on 1 June 2007 but its implementation will be staged and stretched out until from 2007 to 2018. However, don’t allow yourself be lulled by the seemingly far-off deadlines. While you’re contemplating whether you should worry or not, your customers, suppliers and competitors are probably already taking concrete decisions to ensure compliance. Failure to act now could have dire consequences for your business later!

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