What is REACH?

REACh is the Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals in a country or region. This refers to a process where different manufactures of a chemical substance coordinate to generate detailed data to ensure that the impact on people and the environment are well understood. Substances are registered by volume, with testing requirements going up as the volumes increase. The REACh model places responsibility on the industry to manage the risks that chemicals may pose to health and the environment, and requires both suppliers and downstream users to share responsibility for REACh compliance. Costs are shared by manufacturers, with only manufacturers that contribute to a registration gaining license to manufacture or import a substance. 

REACh applies to all chemical substances, including those used in consumer products such as in personal care, laundry, hard surface cleaning and paints. Since the individual substances are registered mixtures and blends of substances do not require additional registration. This approach is in contrast to that used in the United States and in other regions known as a National Inventory (NI). By the NI model, a new substance needs to be registered and approved by the government agency only once, by the initial manufacturer, after which anyone can manufacture the substance without obtaining additional license. 

Once registered, substances continue to be assessed for safety and environmental impact by the regulatory body. If it is determined to be a Substance of Very High Concern (SVHC), usually in the case of particular health or environmental hazards, it is given a sunset date after which it will be banned at any volume. 

Substances manufactured outside of the country or region can often be registered through a third party known as an Only Representative. This third party serves as the legal entity, enabling the manufacture to grant others the right to use and import the substance. These licenses are unique to each customer, requiring the customer to report the volume of the imports for tracking. Products that are not in compliance with REACh cannot be legally sold.


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