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Article related to: communicating_about_safety
Guest contribution: Avoid a headache on 31 May 2018 – make sure your uses are covered
As the REACH 2018 deadline for registration approaches, manufacturers and importers of chemicals are preparing and intensifying their work to make sure that they comply. But it is not only those companies that are impacted – it also affects users further down the supply chain.
There are significantly more users than there are manufacturers of chemicals. There are also substantially more users of finished articles than there are producers of those articles. You could consider this as an inverted pyramid where the large and varied range of uses balances on a much smaller number of substance manufacturers and importers.
Trust in the market
Having discussed the 2018 registration deadline with users of chemicals and articles, many believe that the materials they use will remain in the supply chain simply because they have been using them for many years. They also have confidence in the registration process, probably because the two previous deadlines did not yield any nasty surprises or because users have not seen substances being removed from the market yet.
However, 2018 may change that because this deadline covers low volume tonnages between 1 to 100 tonnes. Reports suggest a much higher number of registrations than ever before and a large proportion of these may be made by SMEs – potentially with lower levels of resources and a greater reliance on external third party consultation.
Making a business decision
Registering smaller volume materials may bring some difficult commercial decisions when companies balance the costs of registration with the financial return on a low tonnage material. However, those small tonnage materials may be the key ingredient in a product, defining a final product's character in a similar way that a small touch of vanilla or lemon defines the flavour of our favourite cakes. For these reasons, companies further down the supply chain need to be aware of the upstream commitment to register by their suppliers.
|Stephen Quinn. |
Image: West and Senior Limited.
Will your substance be registered?
The first step towards successful registration is to understand your portfolio. Companies purchasing but not directly producing or importing the substances they use, typically rely on their upstream suppliers to comply with the necessary registration obligations. However, under REACH, they have no guarantees that their supplier will successfully complete their registration.
Therefore, companies that are relying on those upstream should reassess their materials portfolio. My advice is to start discussing with your suppliers now, to find out if they intend to register the substance that you are using.
Confirmation for substance registration may also be found by examining ECHA’s registration database. In many cases, users will find that the materials they purchase are already registered or that there is a strong commitment and evidence showing that the necessary steps are being taken to ensure compliance. Such findings will give a positive message on the longevity of supply and ease decisions regarding future production, investment and targeted growth.
Make sure your use is covered
You need an eye for detail because errors made in a registration dossier could have a detrimental impact on the future of your business.
It is important that you act quickly and start discussing the registration plans with your suppliers. Not only will this help you to define your future strategy, it will also make sure that the registrations that are currently being prepared are more accurate because your supplier will better understand exactly how you use their substance.
Correct descriptions of how substances are used are vital for creating accurate registration dossiers and related safety advice. ECHA, together with its stakeholders, have created use maps to help communication between registrants and downstream users. These use maps can help you consider all the relevant aspects related to registration in a consistent manner.
If you are not familiar with the use maps, you can find more information on ECHA’s website or from your sector organisation.
Top tips for downstream users
- Do not presume that the substances you source and rely on will automatically be registered by the manufacturer or importer.
- Reassess your material portfolio and get a clear picture of the substances you use that do not have a registration number (or confirmation that no number is needed because the substance is exempt).
- Where you don't have a number, examine ECHA’s registration database and communicate with your supplier to ask the status of their registration. If there is no number, ask if they are going to register the substance by 31 May 2018.
- If you source a mixture or finished article from within the EU, ask for a formal statement ensuring that all the substances used in its manufacture are registered where necessary, or ask for a commitment from your EU supplier for continued REACH compliance.
- If you have doubts about the continued supply of a key substance, check if it can be sourced elsewhere from a supplier who has already registered or is committed to registering. Consider also your options regarding sourcing, importing, self-registration or even replacing the substance with something else.
- Alert ECHA or your national helpdesk if you identify a key substance that may disappear from the market because there does not appear to be anyone planning to register it.
- Act quickly – communicating sooner will improve the level of awareness and allow business strategy decisions to be made with greater confidence and reduced pressure.
- If you intend to register by yourself, external support and testing may be required. This could be time consuming and its availability may reduce as the deadline approaches, so act now.
Remember, positive communication will provide improved security for your business’ future as well as a safer Europe.
West and Senior
The company is reliant on their upstream suppliers for REACH registration compliance. They have taken an active role in the positive promotion of REACH awareness and compliance, including discussions with government authorities, the European Commission and ECHA. The company has communicated its needs with suppliers and, through trade associations, supports active, open and early communication throughout the supply chain.
West and Senior Limited also take part in a multiple discipline consortium – Cross Sector UK – covering many areas of the manufacturing industry and trade associations examining the process of REACH and supporting increased levels of understanding and compliance guidance.
Text by Stephen Quinn, West and Senior Limited (UK)
Top image: ECHA
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