Thickeners Get Ready for REACH


PARIS – Following a major reorganization, the European REACH Grease Thickeners Consortium is on target to submit its REACH dossier for the most popular grease thickener in 2012.

Forty-seven companies are now in the consortium. Membership is still open, but will likely close before the dossier is submitted, Sabine Hausmann, REACH compliance manager with Fuchs Europe Schmierstoffe GmbH, told the European Lubricating Grease Institute annual general meeting here on May 3.

The consortium underwent a complete reorganization in 2010, Hausmann reported. The new chairman is Andreas Dodos of Eldons. Caleb Management Services was hired to serve as secretariat, trustee and to provide treasury services for the consortium. And WCA was hired as consultant for the technical program for the task force handling lithium 12-hydroxystearate, or Li-12-HS, one of the most widely used grease thickeners.

The consortium has completed its substance list review, identifying 490 substances that have been grouped into 12 categories, and task forces have been established to work on each of these categories. A large number of the substances will be exempt from registration, Hausmann said, including many that occur in nature.

However, 11 substances must comply with the REACH 2013 registration deadline. These include four lithium thickeners, four calcium and calcium complex thickeners, and two aluminum complex thickeners.

Hausmann focused on the consortiums Li-12-HS program as an example of its efforts. The first phase of the registration process, including substance characterization, data gap analysis and development of a testing plan, is now complete, she said.

The consortium achieved excellent substance characterization results, concluding that Li-12-HS is a mono-constituent substance. Consultancy WCA has developed a matrix to identify existing data and data gaps, and proposed a strategy to fill the gaps along with a testing plan. The data gaps are not so numerous for Li-12-HS, noted Hausmann. And a reasonable grouping of substances will allow read-across.

The first two phases of the Li-12-HS tiered testing plan, Hausmann continued, are estimated to cost 40,000 to 90,000.

The next steps, she said, involve contacting and negotiating with other organizations and consortia (for example, for fatty acids, lithium, and metal carboxylate) for access to available data and studies. We have no idea of these costs yet, she conceded.

The Li-12-HS task force is in the process now of filling its data gaps and generating chemical safety assessments and chemical safety report. Yet to do are preparation of the IUCLID 5 software files and the registration dossier itself, and submission of the dossier. Our goal, she said, is dossier submission in 2012 for Li-12-HS. We have developed a category approach to cover lithium thickeners from C14 to C22.