SMEs to lead Reach information exchanges for first time – ECHA

25 March 2013 19:05  [Source: ICIS news]

HELSINKI (ICIS)--The head of the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) said on Monday that the agency had trained several small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to lead groups sharing information for Reach chemical registrations for the first time.

According to Geert Dancet, executive director of ECHA, the agency has provided assistance and training for several SMEs to act as lead registrants for substance information exchange forums (SIEFs) as a means of assisting smaller market players in the Reach registration process.

There have been fears over the costs of Reach registration - which can range from €25,000-€250,000 ($32,000-$325,000) per substance and registrant in the bulk of cases, but can be greater than €1m - are weighing heaviest on smaller enterprises.

“We have trained a number of SMEs that are for the first time lead registrants for their SIEF. Given the fact that many of those [will be subject to] the 2018 deadline, we wanted to learn from a couple of them in order to see whether we could extrapolate these lessons afterwards,” Dancet said.

The next two upcoming Reach registration deadlines – 31 May 2013 for substances marketed in the EU in quantities of 100-1,000 tonnes, and 1 June 2018 for substances marketed in smaller quantities – are expected to affect a significant proportion of SMEs in Europe.

The first deadline of Reach registrations in November 2010 concerned chemicals marketed in quantities of over 1,000 tonnes, and did not include as many SMEs as the next two deadlines are expected to.

SIEFs were introduced as  a means of sharing health, safety and toxicity data on a substance or group of substances prior to registration. The forums are intended to drive down the costs of registration and reduce replication of testing by multiple parties, but they are understood to be less popular with smaller market players.

The right to refer to a registration document secured by another SIEF member can represent more than 50% of Reach registration costs for some companies. According to a European Commission report on the progress of Reach so far, SMEs see these costs as “a tool used by large firms to push small competitors out of the market”.

The move to help SMEs feature more prominently in the SIEF process is the latest move by ECHA to attempt to mitigate the impact of Reach on smaller companies.

Last week, the agency announced that it intends to lower the registration fees for SMEs by 35-95%, and authorisation request fees by 25-90%.

“We need to reduce the impact [of Reach] on SMEs,” Dancet added.

($1 = €0.77)

By: Tom Brown
+44 208 652 3214

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