- Three years of working with the Biocidal Products Regulation
- REACH 2018: Create your registration dossier
- REACH 2018: “Many companies will be able to prepare their registrations directly in REACH-IT”
- Want to know about…the completeness check and how it affects every dossier?
- Making non-animal test methods the default
- How ECHA is assessing glyphosate
- Guest contribution: Avoid a headache on 31 May 2018 – make sure your uses are covered
- Phasing out dangerous substances – how can we speed up?
- REACH and CLP: what’s working, what’s not?
- Global data sharing – steps away from reality?
- Lost at SEA...?
- Chemicals are at the core of the circular economy and Europe's future
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Article related to: News from ECHA
REACH and CLP: what’s working, what’s not?
REACH and CLP have been in force since 2007 and 2009 respectively. How are things going? ECHA Newsletter had a look at two recent reports by ECHA to give some answers.
More information on chemicals
There is now a wealth of information on chemicals freely available on ECHA's website. So far, nearly 10 000 companies have registered chemicals; ECHA has received more than 54 000 registration dossiers for 14 000 substances.
In addition, over 10 000 companies have informed ECHA of their substance’s classification. This increased knowledge of chemical properties leads to improved chemicals management, and ultimately to safer products and the phasing out of the most dangerous substances.
Data – still needs to get better
Despite the amount of information now available, a significant proportion of registration dossiers contain data that is not of a sufficient quality. Without good quality data, the risk management of substances is delayed and the safe use of chemicals is not possible. It is vital that companies proactively update and improve their registration dossiers and safety data sheets on their substances. The good news is that when ECHA notifies companies of the need to improve their data, the vast majority of them respond constructively and make their dossier compliant with the law.
Replacing dangerous chemicals with safer ones
The most dangerous chemicals are being phased out and many are replaced by safer alternatives. Examples of chemicals being phased out are musk xylene, a fragrance which is very persistent and very bio-accumulative, and MDA (4,4'- Diaminodiphenylmethane), which is used in polymers, lubricants and greases, and is carcinogenic.
So far, 31 substances of very high concern (SVHCs) have been placed on the Authorisation List and cannot be used without prior authorisation. In fact, relatively few companies have applied for an authorisation to use them, indicating that they have been phased out.
In addition, 20 restrictions proposed or made under REACH, limit the use and reduce the risks of hazardous chemicals, for example, lead in jewellery and consumer articles, and chromium VI in leather products. 200 opinions on harmonised classification and labelling have in turn triggered further risk management actions.
Boost for innovation?
Almost 1 500 new substances have been registered since 2006, with an increasing annual trend. With REACH, companies can benefit from reduced information requirements for chemicals that are being used for research and development. This has been widely used, mainly by large companies.
European companies are also increasingly taking innovative approaches to finding safer alternatives to the most hazardous substances. More can still be done, but the pressure for safer chemicals from downstream users, retailers and consumers should not be underestimated. With increased awareness of substances of very high concern, consumer demand and the drive towards circular economy, innovative solutions will become more attractive.
More clarity for consumers
For consumers, there is still too little information about substances of very high concern in articles – especially in those imported into the EU. Companies are required to inform ECHA of substances of very high concern in products, but very few have done this so far. Importers especially need to take their responsibilities seriously and notify ECHA about the effects their products could potentially have on consumers. Additional awareness-raising amongst importers and stronger enforcement are the key to making this happen. Also, consumers need to be made more aware of their right to ask if the products they buy contain SVHCs. So far, this right is not widely used.
Improve substance classification
The Classification, Labelling and Packaging Regulation requires companies to classify their substances. Many substances have a harmonised classification throughout Europe to ensure adequate risk management – in those cases, companies tend to comply. However, the challenge lies where companies are making their own self-classification for substances. There are still considerable variations between self-classifications from different companies for the same substance, which is confusing for downstream users and consumers. Therefore, ECHA proposes that the European Commission consider amending the CLP Regulation to require companies to share data and agree on the classification.
Restrictions: benefits outweigh the costs
ECHA has recently looked into the balance of benefits and costs of restrictions made under REACH so far and drawn a positive conclusion. For 16 restrictions, the costs were estimated at almost €300 million per year. However, their health benefits were estimated to be over double that, at €700 million per year. For example, restricting Chromium VI in leather articles is estimated to save more than €350 million per year in medical costs across Europe.
Another benefit from restrictions was emission reduction: around 190 tonnes of substances of concern, for example, mercury, were not released as a result of restrictions.
Did you know?
ECHA’s second report on the implementation of REACH and CLP was published in May 2016. It describes the main achievements and challenges of the ground breaking EU chemicals legislation.
In April 2016, ECHA published a report on Cost and Benefit Assessments in the REACH restriction proposals. It summarises information on the costs and benefits to human health and environment. The report is based on the restriction proposals and opinions of the Committees for Risk Assessment (RAC) and Socio-Economic Analysis (SEAC).
|20 restrictions proposed or made under REACH limit the use and reduce the risks of hazardous chemicals, for example, lead in jewellery and other consumer articles. Image: ECHA.|
Text by Tiiu Bräutigam
Top image: iStockphoto
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