Government calls for stakeholder views on changes to UK REACH

Article by Amanda Jasi

CHEMICAL businesses, downstream chemical users, and other stakeholders are being called to consult on plans to change UK REACH by introducing an alternative transitional registration model (ATRm). The model aims to uphold high levels of protection of human health and the environment, while reducing the transition cost of switching to a domestic chemical regulation regime.

In 2021 the UK brought into law a domestic regime for the control of chemical substances made in and imported into Great Britain (England, Scotland, and Wales). The new regime retains the key principles previously covered by EU REACH but contains changes to make it operable in a domestic context.

The transition to UK REACH is expected to cost Great Britain’s chemical industry £2bn (US$2.6bn).

Last November, the government announced plans for an ATRm to ease the transition. Following in-depth analysis of current UK REACH requirements, the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, working with the Health and Safety Executive and the Environmental Agency have devised a model.

The government’s proposal includes making chemical registration more targeted to avoid duplication of information that UK companies have submitted to EU REACH. Currently, UK companies are required to register the same chemical information with both bodies if they want to trade chemicals in Europe.

The government wants the public, particularly chemical businesses, downstream users of chemicals, and non-governmental organisations, to offer their views on the proposed ATRm. Alongside this, government is seeking consultation on changes to make the restriction and reporting process more efficient, proposals to introduce further protections against unnecessary animal testing, and impacts on trade.

The Chemicals Industry Association (CIA), which represents and advises chemical and pharmaceutical companies across the UK, welcomed a tangible proposal after three years of “intense debate and engagement on the future of UK REACH in a highly political context”.

“As ever with REACH, the devil is in the detail and the task is now to ensure that the legislation is workable for UK manufacturers across supply chains whilst continuing to protect human health and the environment,” it said.

The CIA added: “In a tough economic environment we hope that this announcement will signal future regulatory certainty which has been and remains a significant barrier for UK investment. We also hope that the process – now started – can be continued and fully rolled out by any new government with pace.”

Tim Doggett, CEO of chemical supply chain trade body Chemical Business Association (CBA) said: “From the outset, we highlighted the issues that UK REACH created, it was a huge barrier to trade, business, and investment.”

He welcomed news of the proposal and consultation but added that “there is still much work to be done”. “The CBA will continue to push forward on this with our partners and all stakeholders in the interests of the entire chemical supply chain.”

The consultation will close on 11 July 2024.

Article by Amanda Jasi

Staff reporter, The Chemical Engineer

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