UK REACH will come into force from 1 January, replacing the EU REACH system after the Government confirmed in June that it would not be aligning with the European system.
Forming a UK version of REACH, rather than seeking associate membership of the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), will require some UK chemicals companies to reregister chemicals. Companies do not always have access to the data they need to register chemicals, and the original deadline of two years to register was considered by the industry to be too short.
The UK Government has now announced that it will be extending the time for companies to register with UK REACH to up to six years. Under the new guidance for registrations, new registrations must take place within two, four, or six years depending on the tonnage and how hazardous the chemical is.
Rebecca Pow, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State of Defra, said “the principle of ‘no data, no market’ is central to UK and EU REACH. The provision of data to the regulator gives public assurance that industry understands the risks of the chemicals they use and gives the UK regulators a full evidence base to inform future regulatory decisions. Therefore, in considering the findings from the evidence gathering exercise we looked at options which would enable industry to mitigate costs without reducing important environmental and health protections. We have concluded that the most effective way of achieving this is to extend the transitional data submission timetable in a phased, risk-based, manner.”
“The Government has listened to feedback from stakeholders, businesses and my Committee and I welcome their efforts to ease the transition for the chemicals industry. I hope the revised timetable to register on the new UK REACH system offers the chemicals industry some reassurance and breathing room to collate the necessary data from EU partners” said Philip Dunne, Chairman of the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC)
“Our chemicals industry is a major employer in the UK, supporting local economies and it routinely features in the top tier of chemicals industries around the world. We need a strong regulatory regime that ensures the chemicals sector is safe and fit for purpose. My Committee will be continuing to monitor the creation of UK REACH to ensure it supports this sector go from strength to strength.”
Nishma Patel, Policy Director at the Chemical Industries Association, said: “Whilst not avoiding a separate registration scheme and future replication of registrations in the UK, we believe the proposed timeline will support businesses in better managing the future registration process in the UK and minimise disruption to supply chains. With the newly suggested phased approach to registration, companies will be in the position to spread costs and resources over a longer period of time compared to the two years initially planned. While we welcome the announcement, there needs to be a deal between the UK and EU on a future relationship that will include close cooperation and an agreement on chemical data.”