Most products contain some kind of chemicals. In plastics, leather goods, clothes or electrical equipment, they play a major role wherever they are found. Yet the types and quantities of the chemical substances are often not known along the entire value chain. This chain can be very complex, and communication gaps can also result from stakeholders acting to protect trade secrets. REACH, the EU Chemicals Regulation for the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals, aims to resolve these issues. In force since 2007, the regulation is designed to offer a higher level of protection for people and the environment while also fostering trade with chemicals within the EU Single Market, and promoting competition and innovation. With REACH, all companies are obliged to take responsibility for their chemicals.
All businesses are legally required to disclose certain items of information by 31 May 2018. “The key thing is to ensure transparency along the supply chain,” says Thomas Berbner, an industrial chemicals and product safety specialist who works at Dr. Knoell Consult. “The Regulation means that every member of the supply chain within Europe – whether manufacturer, importer or dealer – must keep records of certain substances in their products.” INTERSEROH Dienstleistungs GmbH has partnered with Dr. Knoell Consult since 2016 to offer a comprehensive REACH compliance service. Berbner: “We can provide comprehensive portfolio analysis and advice to anyone who is not sure of what REACH means for their products and product constituents. REACH means that we are for the first time documenting what happens with chemicals within Europe, from their manufacture to their disposal.”
Special attention is paid to “substances of very high concern”. This includes carcinogenic, mutagenic or reprotoxic substances, and those that accumulate in the body or do not degrade in the environment. By listing these substances, REACH aims to earmark them for further actions, such as restricting the use of dangerous chemicals or taking them off the market entirely, subjecting them to an approval procedure or – ideally – to find long-term substitutes. REACH also gives consumers the right to request information from dealers about the chemicals in products. Companies are liable for their products and have a duty to protect people and the environment.