South Korea is moving toward implementation of a major chemicals law modeled after the European Unions REACH regulation. January will mark the start of a five-year phase-in period for legislation mandating that suppliers share information about a wide range of substances, including lubricants, lube additives and base stocks.
The South Korean law is officially titled the Act on the Registration and Evaluation, etc. of Chemical Substances but is commonly referred to as K-REACH. Since its adoption as a presidential decree in May 2013, the Ministry of Environmenthas drafted details and posted them as pre-announcements to invite review and comments.
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The next step is for the Ministry of Environmentto promulgate the rules, which it is scheduled to do next month. Then in October it will publish a list of chemicals subject to registration.
A Ministry of Environmentofficial, Hwang Inmok, told Lube Report Asia, The two decrees have gone through the processes ofpre-announcement of legislation and regulation screening at Regulatory Reform Committee. Now, there islittle possibility of further changes in the contents ofdecrees.
Hwang also said that the list of existing chemicals subject toregistration will include approximately 500 substances. Criteria for selecting chemicals for that list include volume, type of hazard, application and level of risk. The list will be published every three years, and business dealing with listed chemicals have a grace period of three years to register them.
Adopted in the wake of a series of chemical accidents, K-REACH was written to protectpublic health and the environment from the risksof chemical substancesby producing and utilizing data and information about chemicals. Not all chemicals are covered. Radioactive substances,pharmaceutical products, narcotics, cosmetics, pesticides, fertilizers,food and food additives are exempt. So are feeds, gunpowder, military supplies, health functional foods and medical devices.
Chemicals not in those groups are divided into two categories – existing chemical substances and new chemical substances. The former were either identified by the government by February 1991 as eligible for distribution for commercial use or were subsequently exempted from the requirements of hazard communication under the Toxic Chemicals Control Act. New substances are those that were neither listed prior to February 1991 nor exempted afterward.
Under K-REACH, manufacturers, importers and sellers must report their dealings in existing chemicals if they handle more than 1 metric ton per year and must report new chemicals regardless of volume. Reports must include previous years volume, chemical data and information about its use. Reports are due by April 30th each year.
Companies are also required to register substances before manufacturing or importing them. Registrations include chemical identification information, physico-chemical properties, hazard information, risks and other information.
Companies manufacturing or importing products that contain hazardous chemical substancesmust file notification if the product volume exceeds 1 ton per year and if the hazardous substance constitutes at least 0.1 percentof the products content. Notifications must include the chemical name, its content level and its use.
The Ministry of Environmentis responsible for establishing and operating an electronic data processing systemfor reporting, registration and notification. The ministry is supposed to cooperate with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development to ensure its system will be compatible with the OECDs Globally Harmonized System.
Meanwhile, Ministry of Environmenthas duties to evaluate filings, conducting substance risk assessments and designating substances deemed as hazardous.
South Korea is the fifth-largest chemical market in the world following China, the United States, Japan and Germany, according to European Chemical Industry Council. About 43,000 kinds of chemical substances are in circulation inSouth Korea,and about 400 new chemicals enter into the marketeach year.