Frequently asked questions about REACH

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What is REACH?

REACH stands for the Regulation for Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals. It entered into force on June 1, 2007, to streamline and improve the European Union's (EU) former legislative framework for chemicals. REACH also creates the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), which has a central coordination and implementation role in the overall process. ECHA is located in Helsinki, Finland, and will manage the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction processes for chemical substances to ensure consistency across the EU.

The aims of REACH are to:

  • improve the protection of human health and the environment from the risks that can be posed by chemicals;
  • enhance the competitiveness of the EU chemicals industry, a key sector for the economy of the EU;
  • promote alternative methods for the assessment of hazards of substances, and
  • ensure the free circulation of substances on the internal market of the European Union.

How is REACH different?

REACH replaced approximately 40 pieces of legislation with a single, streamlined and improved regulation. REACH created the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), with responsibility for a central coordination and implementation role in the overall process.

Other legislation regulating chemicals (such as for cosmetics or detergents) or related legislation (such as health and safety of workers handling chemicals, product safety, or construction products) not replaced by REACH will continue to apply. REACH has been designed not to overlap or conflict with the other chemical legislation.

How does REACH work?

All manufacturers and importers of chemicals must identify and manage risks linked to the substances they manufacture and market in the EU. For substances produced or imported in quantities of 1 metric ton or more per year per company, manufacturers and importers need to demonstrate that they have appropriately done so by means of a Registration dossier, which shall be submitted to the agency.

Once the Registration dossier has been received, the agency may check that it is compliant with the regulation and evaluate testing proposals to ensure that the assessment of the chemical substances will not result in unnecessary testing, especially on animals.

Where appropriate, authorities may also select substances for a broader substance evaluation to further investigate substances of concern. Manufacturers and importers must provide their downstream users with the risk information they need to use the substance safely. This will be done via the classification and labeling system and Safety Data Sheets (SDS) where needed.

If, after the appropriate deadline, a substance has not been Registered according to the REACH guidelines, non-Registered substances and non-Registered uses will become illegal.

What chemicals are covered by REACH?

REACH follows a substance-based approach and applies to the manufacture, sale or use of substances on their own, in preparations or in articles. REACH applies to all substances with a few exemptions that include but are not limited to:

  • radioactive substances;
  • substances, on their own, in a preparation or in an article, which are subject to customs supervision, provided that they do not undergo any treatment or processing, and which are in temporary storage, or in a free zone or free warehouse with a view to re-exportation, or in transit;
  • non-isolated intermediates (intermediates that during synthesis are not intentionally removed, except for sampling, from the equipment in which the synthesis takes place, and
  • polymers (though not the monomers which make them up) are also fully exempt from Registration.

A number of other substances are exempted from parts of the provisions of REACH, where other equivalent legislation applies (such as waste or substances used in medicinal products).

What is the timeline for REACH?

Substances falling under the scope of the REACH regulation and not exempted from the Registration obligation must be registered before they can be manufactured or placed on the market (including import) in the EU. Those substances that have long been on the EU market, called phase-in substances, and those that have not previously been placed on the EU market, called non-phase-in substances, have different timelines for Registration.

For phase-in substances that are manufactured or imported in a quantity of 1 metric ton or more per year, and which were Pre-Registered between June 1, 2008, and Nov. 30, 2008, the Registration provisions are applied in phases to facilitate the organized and effective transition to REACH. The transitional arrangements introduce different deadlines for Registration, without the need to interrupt the manufacture or import of these substances.

Substances that have not previously been placed on the EU market (non phase-in substances), and phase-in substances that have not been Pre-Registered, must have been Registered before manufacture or import starting Dec. 1, 2008. 

How is Ashland complying with REACH?

As a supplier, manufacturer, importer and purchaser of chemical substances in the European Union (EU), it is in our mutual best interests to comply with the REACH regulations, as well as to ensure the supply of goods to us and to our customers is not disrupted. The initiatives described below apply to all Ashland products for the European market, whether supplied by Ashland-controlled entities based in Europe, the U.S. or other geographies.

Ashland teams have and will continue to work on the inventory of Ashland products and associated substances subject to Registration under REACH. This includes any new substances introduced into the market by Ashland-controlled entities. Additionally, we are currently participating in REACH consortia and evaluating additional opportunities for participation, where appropriate.

Ashland has initiated the development of technical dossiers for substances requiring Registration. For that purpose, we will ask from our customers end-use application information related to our products through the Ashland REACH website. We also are working with our suppliers to ensure that all substances we purchase in the EU or elsewhere will be Registered. We will communicate up and down the supply chain our progress in these areas and any other related information (such as end use).

While it is our intention to file Registrations for substances manufactured and imported by Ashland in the EU, we cannot guarantee or absolutely commit to future Registration. Ashland’s product portfolio is subject to continual evaluation and optimization based on market and customer needs, including market size and profitability.

We will continue our work in defining the end-use information for our products. As part of this activity, we will communicate further with our customers and suppliers to provide details on how we will manage the necessary exchange of information between Ashland and your organization.

As a non-EU customer, how am I affected by REACH?

Non-EU customers exporting products within the scope of REACH to the European Union must ensure that their EU-based importer has/will pre-register and subsequently register any of the relevant substances or monomers which are imported at levels over one metric tonne per year.

No rights can be derived from this publication and Ashland disclaims any liability for any errors or omissions. Each customer, supplier or other person or entity doing business with Ashland is solely responsible for the correct and full compliance with its obligations under REACH.