InterviewEurope coping well with Reach but beware 2013 - Cefic

25 November 2010 17:01  [Source: ICIS news]

Erwin Annys/ CeficLONDON (ICIS)--Europe’s chemical sector is coping well with Reach compliance as the 30 November registration deadline approaches, but lessons must be learned for the next phase in 2013, according to a senior Cefic executive on Thursday.

Cefic members and national associations were reporting no problems as the deadline approached for the registration of substances manufactured or imported over 1,000 tonnes/year in Europe, Erwin Annys, the trade group's director for Reach/Chemicals Policy, said to ICIS.

“There have been quite a few obstacles but looking at the current situation – surprisingly I don’t get any real sense of alarm. There is a feeling that companies have submitted their dossiers in time,” said Annys.

Around 15,000 registrations have already taken place according to the European Chemical Agency’s (ECHA’s) website and Annys expected there would be 20,000-23,000 in total as more were in the pipeline.

“We’re confident that the chemical industry will continue to manufacture in Europe on 1 December; the substances manufactured here are covered by registration,” he added. 

The next phase of Reach starts in 2013 when substances over 100 tonnes/year must be registered. This phase could cause more problems as it is likely to affect small-to-medium-sized enterprises which do not have the resources of larger groups to tackle Reach compliance.

“It will be very important to really evaluate difficulties and find solutions to avoid problems in the second round. It’s only two and a half years and there will probably be more substances with less data available and more smaller companies in the picture. These companies will have less legal and information technology experience," Annys said.

Lessons need to be learned from the difficulties experienced in communicating down the supply chain, added Annys: “Communication along the supply chain is much more difficult than everyone first imagined. The directors contact group – established at the start of 2010 - has played an important role in finding solutions to practical difficulties for downstream users.”

“Messages from downstream users are much more alarming. But it is important to remember that this is only the first registration deadline. Many substances will be covered by the 2013 and 2018 deadlines. There is a lot of uncertainty from downstream users about registration but there is no real indication that specific substances will be missing on 1 December,” he said.

Annys pointed out that it would be much easier for a downstream manufacturer such as coatings makers to communicate directly with chemical suppliers than for an automotive manufacturer which was purchasing finished or semi-finished components.

Cefic estimated the average cost of putting a dossier together for substances over 1,000 tonnes/year was €2m-€3m ($3m-4m) – but there were examples where costs have spiked to more than €10m when additional work needed to be done. This included the total cost of tests, administration, safety reports and management of the substance information exchange forum (SIEF) – the groups formed by manufacturers of the same chemical.

“To my knowledge no-one has stopped production of a substance due to these costs,” said Annys.

There were concerns that Reach could be seen as a trade barrier. Some buyers of chemicals in Europe are thought to have swapped from international to domestic suppliers to ensure Reach-compliance.

However, Annys pointed out that the World Trade Organisation has repeatedly stated the legislation does not breach free trade rules.

“Every step in the development of Reach and every change [to the detail] has been presented to the WTO. It has always said Reach is not a technical barrier to trade,” Annys added.

($1 = €0.75)

To discuss issues facing the chemical industry visit ICIS connect

By: Will Beacham
+44 20 8652 3214

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