Industry REACH concerns resurface

Trade organizations in the British chemical industry have voiced serious doubts over the workability of the planned REACH regulations.

The Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals plans have always faced opposition from industry, while NGOs have argued they are not bad for business and will provide added protection for the environment (see related story).

But the British Chemical Distributors and Traders Association (BCDTA) and Chemical Industries Association (CIA) say they are not opposed to the legislation's aims, just its practical application.

Judith Hackitt, CIA Director-General, said, "We fully support the legislative objectives of REACH, but the success and effectiveness of a single new regulation covering chemicals depends on several crucial workability issues being urgently resolved."

The concerns revolve around red tape, inefficiency and fears that commercial confidentiality would be breached.

The issues the trade organisations believe need to be resolved are 'crucial to the workability' of REACH are:

  • The introduction of proposals for risk-based prioritisation at the registration stage, combined with a simplified use categorisation, so that substances of high concern can be dealt with earlier.

  • A scope that only covers substances destined for the European market.

  • A more-explicit exemption of wastes and substances where uses are already covered by their own legislation.

  • Greater consideration of the trade imbalance produced by allowing the importation of finished goods that contain substances of high concern that would require an authorisation if manufactured within the EU.

  • A centralized management of the system with the Central Agency having strong powers and responsibility for decision-making at all stages of REACH. This will ensure a single market and create a true level playing field within the EU.

  • A removal of any REACH requirements for R&D or process or product orientated research in order to ensure that innovation is not damaged.

  • An inclusion of the use of the principle of grouping of substances to both the registration and evaluation phase and for including substances of low concern in Annex II.

  • Greater consideration of data and security requirements to protect commercial confidentiality and intellectual property rights.

  • Removing the mandatory sharing of core animal test data.

  • The creation of an environment that encourages the joint registration and sharing of available data for all substances.

    By Sam Bond

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