REACH Rough on Small Business


BRUSSELS – REACH is accomplishing most of its objectives thus far, according to the European Commission, but changes must be made to reduce the programs negative impacts on vulnerable small and medium-size businesses.

Following an in-depth review of REACH (Registration, Evaluation and Authorization of Chemicals), the commission has determined that the program functions well, Michal Kubicki told the 2013 UEIL Congress in October. However, the commission is recommending a push to increase awareness among small players, along with a review of the fees for registration. Whats needed, he said, is to begin reducing administrative burdens on small-to-medium size businesses (SMEs) while assisting them to fulfill all their REACH obligations.

SMEs – many of which are downstream users – are more vulnerable and insufficiently aware, Kubicki, an economist at the commission, told the congress. SMEs face more difficulties to integrate REACH requirements into daily operation, and are more vulnerable to the financial constraints.

Overall, REACH has resulted in a significant decrease in risks, and has helped make available more and better information on substances already registered, he continued. Furthermore, the program has increased communication in the supply chain. Suppliers are more informed about customer uses and needs, he said. Weve also witnessed a reorientation of research and development expenditure towards regulatory compliance, and there has been good progress with joint submission of dossiers and data sharing.

The European Chemicals Agency is currently reviewing small-to-medium businesses needs between now and 2018, Kubicki informed the congress, while the commission will be holding workshops such as the one next week to help address the problem. According to its website, the European Commission is organizing a workshop to bring together SMEs and larger companies to find solutions to registration problems, including participating in substance information exchange forums (SIEFs). The workshop is scheduled for Dec. 10-11 in Brussels.

Under the European Unions REACH, manufacturers and importers are required to gather information on the properties of their substances, which will help them manage them safely, and to register the information in a central database.

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