Survey Finds REACH is Stifling Innovation

By Tom Bowtell, British Coatings Federation CEO | 08.18.15

An estimated €2 billion that could have been spent on innovation is instead being spent on defensive measures.

Recently, a European Commission survey released results confirming what we have been saying about REACH – that it stifles innovation in the coatings and printing ink industries.

Members of the British Coatings Federation invest massive amounts of R&D spend on defensive innovation to comply with regulations, rather than creating new applications or functionality for coatings and inks. An estimated €2 billion has already been spent by the chemicals industry in order to comply with REACH.

The survey, conducted by the European Commission, sampled 1,600 companies, with 35% responding that REACH is negatively affecting their capacity to innovate. Only 10% indicated a positive impact of REACH. The study’s full results are expected in the autumn, but the Commission’s industry directorate DG Grow’s deputy director general Antti Peltomaki, is obviously concerned.

Substituting substances on the authorisation list, he said, is not innovation, according to the ‘proper meaning’ of the word. “Replacing substances of concern with safer alternatives is important … but innovation is a broader concept, encompassing a wide range of different environmental and economic aspects, such as resource and energy efficiency,” he added.

Aside from the lack of innovation, almost 40% of the responding chemicals manufacturers indicated that REACH affected their competitive position, compared to companies outside the EU, with 75% of those saying it has weakened or substantially weakened their position.

The positive implications of REACH were noted as improving companies’ risk management procedures and increased their knowledge of chemical substances, their properties and uses.

The full Chemical Watch article is available at the link below:

For more on REACH, the BCF is organizing a seminar, “REACH 2018: time for action.” The seminar centers around three predominant themes in the discourse surrounding REACH: REACH Registration 2018, REACH Authorisation and Restriction, and Substances. The seminar takes place on Oct. 14 in the Nottingham area. For more details, see Events at