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