New Government Proposal All Set To Significantly Reduce UK Reach Costs For The Chemical Industry

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UK (Parliament Politics Maganize) – The government’s proposal to streamline the submission of hazard information for registering substances under the UK’s chemical regulatory regime has been well-received by the chemical industry. 

In response to the UK’s exit from the EU, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is developing an independent system for registering chemicals in Great Britain under UK Reach (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation, and Restriction of Chemicals), with EU Reach remaining applicable in Northern Ireland.

Streamlined Chemical Registration: UK Reach Proposal

Since its departure from the EU in 2021, the UK has transitioned existing chemical registrations to its independent Reach regime. However, these “grandfathered” registrations still lack complete datasets. In the summer, Defra granted a three-year extension to the submission deadlines for these registrations, now set for October 2026, 2028, and 2030, depending on volume and hazard profile.

The industry has vigorously opposed a system that would mandate the purchase or replication of full data packages already submitted under EU Reach. According to a Defra impact assessment, such a requirement could incur costs of £1.3–3.5 billion for the industry.

In a statement on November 9, Defra highlighted that its experience with UK Reach has revealed that regulators do not necessitate a complete replica of all the registration data for chemical substances under EU Reach for UK Reach to fulfill its regulatory functions.

UK Reach Transition: Defra’s Revised Deadlines and Industry Impact

Under this approach, Defra will mandate the submission of only the essential minimum hazard information for transitional chemical registrations and intermediates. Additional data requirements will be targeted, responding specifically to new or emerging risks or for chemicals of higher concern. 

Notably, UK Reach registrants are generally not expected to access or pay for data packages held by EU industry consortia, as outlined in Defra’s proposal. While detailed policy development is pending, Defra anticipates initiating a public consultation on a comprehensive plan in 2024.

Reduced Burden Welcomed by Chemical Industry

The chemical industry responded with relief to the proposal. Steve Elliott, the Chief Executive of the Chemical Industries Association, emphasized that it not only has the potential to significantly decrease the expected costs of replicating the efforts already undertaken by UK companies for EU Reach but also has the capacity to enhance health and environmental protection outcomes through more focused regulation and resource allocation.

The Chemical Business Association (CBA) described the announcement as “what we have been campaigning for since December 2021.” The chemical industry influences every aspect of our daily lives, so the ramifications of UK Reach extend beyond the initial implementation costs. 

They also affect the overall competitiveness of businesses in the global market,” stated Tim Doggett, Chief Executive of the Chemical Business Association (CBA). He expressed anticipation for the government to provide comprehensive details of the policy in early 2024 and emphasized the ongoing collaboration with partners in navigating these changes.

Chem Trust’s Concerns: Balancing Information Reduction and Regulatory Efficiency

However, the UK charity Chem Trust argued that reducing the mandatory hazard information from companies would place a greater burden on regulators to actively seek the necessary information to prohibit or control harmful substances.

“This is very concerning as it is already too slow to keep pace with chemical threats and deal with the increase in chemical pollution in the environment,” expressed Chloe Alexander, Policy Advisor at Chem Trust.

Alexander further commented, “This statement confirms our long-held view that the UK Reach model will continue to be a poor relation to EU Reach. The publication of fuller policy details in the new year provides an opportunity for the government to demonstrate how it will achieve its ambition of upholding high levels of protection.”

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Overview of UK REACH

UK REACH is a regulatory framework applicable to the majority of chemical substances produced in or imported into Great Britain (GB), encompassing England, Scotland, and Wales. This includes:

  • A standalone substance
  • A substance within a mixture, such as ink or paint
  • A substance comprising an ‘article,’ which refers to an object manufactured with a distinct shape, surface, or design, such as a car, furniture, or clothing.

It is imperative for your business to recognize and effectively address the risks associated with the substances you manufacture and introduce to the market in Great Britain (GB). You are required to showcase the safe usage of these substances and articulate the risk management measures to the end users.

Beth Malcolm

Beth Malcolm is Scottish based Journalist at Heriot-Watt University studying French and British Sign Language. She is originally from the north west of England but is living in Edinburgh to complete her studies.