REACH service providers report rapid uptake

Industry and government services set up to help companies comply with the new REACH regime for chemicals registration have reported strong uptake.

Due to come into force in June, the EU’s REACH Regulation will require chemical manufacturers and importers to have or be able to acquire sufficient risk data to meet registration requirements for the substances they buy, produce or sell by set deadlines.

This obligation and its consequences for supply chains is creating a thriving market for business advice (ENDS Report 384, p 47 ).

In the EU, some of the first commercial bodies to set out their stalls in REACH services are reporting a healthy level of interest:

  • REACHReady: The UK Chemical Industries Association’s commercial service was the first to be launched, last March (ENDS Report 374, pp 12-13 ). It now has some 1,400 firms worldwide and from many sectors registered to its service, which offers advice and practical tools to help find partners and service providers.

    There is an undisclosed but reportedly "healthy ratio" between free subscribers and those paying its £200 annual subscriber fee.

    The company has just taken a first step into direct on-site consultancy with "REACH Start" - a £950 per day service to help firms assess their obligations. A key feature is to brief senior management on the importance of REACH to their operations. Five or six large firms have signed up so far.

    REACHReady has also begun to offer a "partner programme" providing discounted advisory services to members of other trade associations. Those that have entered into partnership agreements include the Minor Metals Trade Association, the Packaging Federation, Chemicals North-West, the British Essential Oils Association and the International Federation of Essential Oils.

    A free questionnaire for companies to send to their suppliers to ask them about their readiness to comply with REACH and the likelihood of their supporting chemicals through the registration process is now available on the website.1

  • REACHCentrum: Established by the European Chemical Industry Council (CEFIC), REACHCentrum was also launched last year. It offers a full spectrum of services from consultancy and on-site training to helping companies manage pre-registration, registration, consortia formation, authorisation and data archiving processes. It does not cite fees publicly.

    The service has organised a series of workshops to train staff on REACH’s requirements. More than 170 people attended a workshop in Brussels in January, including representatives from Brazil and India, downstream chemical users and suppliers.

    Delegates were given the latest information from CEFIC experts who participate in the working parties preparing REACH technical guidance. Concerns ranged from understanding definitions and the IT infrastructure to be used in REACH, to preparing compliance strategies that minimise costs and disruption to supply chains.

    Templates for letters to suppliers and customers to make them aware of their REACH obligations are given in the latest edition of REACHCentrum’s newsletter, available on its website.2

  • REFAC: Though an idea originated by the Chemical Business Association (formerly the British Chemical Distributors and Traders Association), REFAC will be a not-for-profit stand alone company, chaired by CBA President Melvyn Whyte.

    REFAC’s costs will initially be met through a founding shareholder scheme where firms invest a minimum of £5,000 and in return receive discounted services. Some 14 firms have so far taken this up, while the CBA is aiming for 25. Companies will be charged £250/year for its full services.

    Finishing touches are now being put to the company’s team of experts and a website is due to go live from the end of February.

    The company will offer low-cost REACH compliance services designed for SMEs and with particular expertise on implications for distributors, traders and chemicals warehouses.

    It will provide advice and screening of service providers and as REACH deadlines approach it plans to add data analysis, pre-registration, consortia formation and registration services.

  • The UK government’s national REACH helpdesk launched by the Health and Safety Executive last autumn has responded to 230 emails since its launch (ENDS Report 381, p 4 ).

    In answer to a written parliamentary question on 23 January, Environment Minister Lord Rooker noted concern that although major industrial players are aware of their REACH obligations, SMEs in downstream sectors have less understanding.

    As part of the launch of the UK competent body for REACH,3 which is due to be in operation by April, the HSE carried a stakeholder analysis to identify opportunities to engage with key groups including commercial REACH service providers, other trade associations, retailers and NGOs in order to raise awareness of REACH requirements. It plans to pursue these in the coming year.

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