The Global Reach of REACH

By David Savastano, Ink World Editor | 05.24.07

There is little doubt that the European Union’s adoption of the controversial REACH regulations will have a major impact

There is little doubt that the European Union’s adoption of the controversial REACH (Registration,

The CPMA's REACH Workshop was led by, from left, Dr. Uwe Wolfmeier of Clariant International; Robert Matthews of McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP; moderator Dr. Robert C. Mott of Sun Chemical; Ron Sorice of The Shepherd Color Company; and Joyce Borkhoff of Ciba Specialty Chemicals Canada.
Evaluation, Restriction and Authorization of Chemicals) regulations will have a major impact. Terms such as pre-registration, substitution information exchange forums (SIEF), consortia, only representatives and others are going to become commonplace as just about everyone, from companies to EU administrators, tries to determine what exactly REACH encompasses.
To help its members prepare for the future, the Color Pigments Manufacturers Association (CPMA) offered a comprehensive REACH Workshop during its recent 2007 International Conference in Baltimore, MD. The workshop highlighted what companies need to do to sell in Europe. Perspectives from European regulators, U.S. and Canadian manufacturers exporting to Europe and companies with operations in Europe were featured in this informative session, which was moderated by Dr. Robert C. Mott, manager, global regulatory for Sun Chemical.
Dr. Uwe Wolfmeier, corporate product safety for Clariant International, began the workshop with an overview of REACH. Terming it “probably the most important and challenging chemical legislation of all times,” Dr. Wolfmeier noted that it is encompasses 849 pages of legal text. “Trying to explain REACH and how it affects our business is a nearly hopeless undertaking,” he said.
Dr. Wolfmeier noted that the chemical industry in the EU is a nearly $650 billion business. One of the major concerns among European chemical manufacturers is whether less regulated countries will take advantage and profit from the regulations. Essentially, REACH shifts the burden of proof from authorities to industry. Pre-registration, which will occur from June 2008 to November 2008, is critical. Dr. Wolfmeier anticipates that the complexity will be overwhelming, and that amendments are likely; even so, there is likely to be a high number of chemical companies that will go bankrupt.
“Industry should conscientiously prepare for REACH to an extent depending on the individual company situation,” Dr. Wolfmeier concluded. “Use the chances offered by REACH and make the best out of it.”
Robert Matthews, a partner of McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP, is an expert on the field, and his “REACH: Planning and Implementation” provided an excellent insight into preparing for the law, complete with upcoming deadlines and potential case studies.
Mr. Matthews detailed the importance of preparing for REACH, emphasizing the need to make strategic decisions about substances, products, suppliers and customers, and then allocating responsibilities and funding. It is essential that management be fully committed to the process.
He also discussed Substance Information Exchange Forums (SIEFs), in which all pre-registrants of the same substance can exchange information, thus avoiding duplication of studies. The idea of importers setting up an “only representative” as an appointed importer that takes on REACH responsibilities was also discussed. Mr. Matthews also discussed how consortia are forming to address REACH data requirements, which helps reduce individual costs but does make the process more complex.
“REACH poses a business risk for any company doing business in the EU,” Mr. Matthews concluded. “Companies that understand the business implications and impacts of REACH, and develop strategic action plans, will gain a competitive edge over those that do not.”
Ron Sorice, director, REACH compliance for The Shepherd Color Company, then offered his perspectives on “The Business of REACH – An SME View from Across the Water.” While he noted that REACH is well intended, Mr. Sorice estimated it is administratively complex, impacting 30,000 chemicals and cost $5 billion just for testing and registrations. Mr. Sorice recommended that for companies headquartered outside the EU, they should analyze their product portfolio and market forces, define their role, determine the cost and develop its strategy, whether it is to go all out, be selective or do business elsewhere.
Joyce Borkhoff, head, regulatory services for Ciba Specialty Chemicals Canada, closed the workshop with her comprehensive analysis of “European Union REACH Legislation and Canadian Chemical Management Plan.” Ms. Borkhoff noted the similarities between the EU and Canadian programs, such as the use of hazard criteria and the potential need for additional testing. A key difference is that the EU requires industry testing, while Canada utilizes government testing.