PEP Review 2007-14
Reach Briefing: A Review of EU Chemicals' Licensing
Published: November 2007
Over the coming fifteen years, the European Union (EU) will impose licensing on the some 30,000 chemicals that currently are produced or imported in volumes of more than 1 tonne per year. This licensing program is called REACH, for Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals. By the time REACH is fully in force, it will be illegal to produce in the EU or import into the EU unlicensed chemicals. It also will be illegal to use licensed chemicals in unlicensed applications.
Licenses are to be granted according to risk, defined conventionally as hazard x exposure. Substances deemed too risky will be restricted. Those that also can be replaced by less risky substances and have low economic values are likely to be banned. The conventional wisdom of both REACH supporters and opponents is that REACH will bring about the commercial demise of some 5,000 chemicals. Some will be banned, but most will simply be withdrawn by producers or importers to avoid the cost of trying to license them. This report aims to brief chemical managers about REACH. It covers: REACH’s legal and administrative basis; substances covered (and not); registration; evaluation; authorization; restriction; and obligations of downstream users. It also presents a glossary that explains the increasing mass of REACH jargon, and a list of companies that help chemical producers and importers to comply with REACH.