25 April 2003 16:18 [Source: ICIS news]
LONDON (CNI)--European manufacturers and importers will have between three and 11 years to register their chemicals after the proposed new Reach system enters force, according to a leaked draft document from the European Commission (EC) obtained by CNI on Friday.
The "orientation" paper, by Enterprise and Information Commissioner Erkki Liikanen and Environment Commissioner Margot Wallstrom, informs the EC of essential features in the white paper draft legislation and the expected principal impacts of the registration, evaluation and authorisation of chemicals (Reach) provisions.
All firms making or importing quantities of over 1 tonne per year will be required to submit information to the new agency which the EC proposes will administer the Reach system. The information required increases at tonnage intervals of 10, 100 and 1000 tonne, according to the draft document.
The registration deadlines will also be applied progressively. Manufacturers and importers producing or importing over 1000 tonne of a particular chemical will have three years to register the substance after the new rules enter force. Makers or importers of 1 tonne will have 11 years.
The EC appears to have also listened to concerns raised that Reach might stifle innovation. Substances being used for product and process orientated research and development (R&D) will be exempt from the Reach system for an initial five year period which can be renewed for a further five years.
The latest draft of the proposed regulations marks a significant dilution of earlier versions and will be of particular benefit to small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) producing smaller amounts of substances.
According to the document: "All reasonable efforts have been made to meet the concerns from industry and many individual enterprises, typically SMEs, both in the chemicals and downstream sectors, which may fear that the added costs involved in meeting the new requirements could be very damaging to competitiveness."
Just yesterday (24 April), French chemicals industry association the UIC warned that, based on earlier proposals, the Reach system could result in the collapse of many SMEs and force companies to relocate.
There are further registration requirements for substances within other products which will have to be registered if sufficient amounts of the substance might pose a risk to human health and the environment and if the substance has not already been registered for that particular use further up the supply chain. For reasons of practicality, the commissioners added, this requirement will be phased in shortly after the registration deadlines for substances.
Questions over whether polymers and intermediates would be included in the registration process have also been slightly clarified in the paper. It states that "polymers with certain properties will be subject to a reduced registration package; other polymers will be exempted from registration." Further details of the criteria for exemption were not available.
Yesterday the UIC called for the exemption of polymers and non-commercial synthetic intermediates.
"Intermediates are also generally subject to reduced registration requirements," the paper continued. In actual fact the proposals divide intermediates into a scale based on four categories: category one - sealed intermediates - are excluded from the system altogether; category two and category three - intermediates with a limited exposure potential - will be subject to specific registration requirements; and category four intermediates will have to fulfil the full requirements of Reach, as with normal substances.
Reach is one of the main proposals in the EU white paper "A strategy for a future chemicals policy".
Industry expects the EC to publish its proposals on 7 May when a five week Internet consultation process will begin.
However, the EC has made it clear that it is seeking guidance not on cost issues but on the way in which the legislation will be implemented. The "orientation" paper contains revised and in some cases new estimates of the cost to the chemicals industry and its customers of Reach.
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