31 May 2007 13:04 [Source: ICIS news]
By Philippa Jones
PARIS (ICIS news)--European institutions and the chemical industry will have to put aside any distrust when Reach officially comes into force on Friday 1 June.
They must pull together and move on from the years of political wrangling and intensive lobbying if the legislation is to be workable.
“It would be unrealistic to expect Reach to work perfectly from day one,” said Lena Perenius, director of the European Chemical Industry Council's (Cefic's) Reach unit.
“But we have to make it work and that will require the joint effort of the industry, the European Commission (EC), the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) and the competent national authorities to find solutions to problems as they arise,” she added.
Reach was formally adopted on December 18, 2006 by EU environment ministers after the European Parliament gave its backing to a revised version.
Officials were delighted they had finally managed to conclude one of the most complicated pieces of legislation ever to grace their institutions following more than five years of hard negotiation.
Driven by the EU’s push towards sustainable development and growing concern about the lack of control over chemicals used in ?xml:namespace>
But replacing around 40 pieces of legislation was never going to be easy. Concerns about the commission’s plans were immediately raised by environmentalists and the chemical industry, sparking off intensive lobbying on both sides.
In November 2001, the Council of Ministers and the parliament passed the draft white paper with additional demands to the commission.
The first draft of legislation was then expected in September 2002, but it was not until early May the following year that it saw the light of day.
An eight-week internet consultation was then held, prompting some 6,400 submissions, and later in 2003 a draft chemicals regulation was submitted by the commission to the parliament.
It was in November 2005 that Reach actually appeared to be advancing, when the parliament voted in favour of an amended bill, paving the way for a final agreement.
The EC now has to ensure the ECHA and the relevant IT and advisory services are up and running so the deadlines agreed in the final package can be met.
Chemical companies have until June 2008 to pre-register their existing products and will then have three years to register chemicals produced in quantities of more than 1,000 tonnes/year.
Chemicals that might harm the human reproductive system or are carcinogenic or mutagenic (CMR) and are produced in quantities of more than 1 tonne/year must also be registered in this timeframe.
In addition, persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic (PBT), and very persistent very bioaccumulative (vPvB) chemicals produced in quantities of more than 100 tonnes/year must meet the same requirements.
Companies will have six years to register chemicals produced in quantities of 100-1,000 tonne/year, while those produced in quantities of 1-100 tonne/year will have to be registered within 11 years.
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