Saturday, May 15, 2010

First REACH Deadline Approaching Fast - Time to Panic?

The REACH chemical control law in Europe has been in force for a couple of years now, but November 30, 2010 is the first big deadline for companies to register their chemicals. To do that they have to provide extensive dossiers of health and safety data. No data, no registration, no market.

Since this is the first deadline and it is for larger volume chemicals (the three deadlines are spaced out, with lower tonnages not due until as late as 2018), there has been a lot of work to do...and a lot of confusion about how to do it. Even as companies and consortia are working hard to finish up their registration packages, ECHA (the chemicals agency in Helsinki) is still revising and creating guidance documents and software. And all this has many companies on edge.

But there are some reasons to relax. Okay, not relax, but at least not get too anxious.

While ECHA has 3 weeks to run the submitted dossiers through an automated completeness check, if companies don't submit until October or November (assuming they still meet the November 30 deadline), that window actually expands to 3 months. If it is not completely acceptable, companies will have up to 4 more months to fix it and provide corrected documents. In practice what this could mean is that there will be a lot of companies at the last minute more worried about checking the right boxes in the electronic form to ensure it passes the automated completeness check then getting the assessments right. If they can get past that, then they are home free to continue producing or importing the chemicals until ECHA or a member state targets a particular chemical for further review.

There is also a right to appeal some decisions to ensure integrity of supply chains.

So the bottom line is that companies have a lot of work to get down between now and the fall, but then can relax and wait for further assessment, if any, from ECHA, all while continuing to market their chemicals.

Just make sure your dossier passes the completeness check.

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