UK REACH: Three-year extension for companies to submit data on chemical risks signed into law

A statutory instrument which extends the deadlines for businesses to submit technical data on the hazards and risks of chemicals they produce has been signed into law.

The REACH (Amendment) Regulations 2023 statutory instrument (SI), which was ​​laid before parliament in April this year, was signed into law on 28 June. It will see the three separate deadlines for businesses to submit dossiers on the chemicals they manufacture or import be extended by three years across the board.

The idea was first mooted in a consultation held last summer, in response to the increasing costs facing businesses under the current regime, and while an Alternative Transitional Registration (ATR) model for UK REACH is being developed.

Under the new SI, which comes into effect on 19 July, the first deadline for full registration data to be submitted to Britain’s chemicals regime post-Brexit, UK REACH, for substances on the EU REACH candidate list before the current regime came into effect is now set at 27 October 2026. 

This deadline is also for portfolios to be submitted on carcinogenic, mutagenic or reprotoxic substances manufactured or imported in quantities of one tonne or more per year, substances deemed “very toxic” to aquatic life that are manufactured or imported in quantities of 100 tonnes or more per year, and all substances manufactured or imported in quantities of 1,000 tonnes or more per year.

The second deadline, which has been moved to 27 October 2028, is for full registration data for substances added to the UK REACH candidate list between 1 January 2024 and 27 October 2026 to be submitted, alongside data on all substances manufactured or imported in quantities of 100 tonnes or more a year. Previously the deadline was for those added before the 2023 deadline. 

The third deadline is for data on all substances manufactured or imported in quantities of one tonne or more per year, this has now been pushed back to 27 October 2030.

This means that rather than full data portfolios being submitted for every category by 2027, this now will not be complete until 2030.

The SI also moves the timelines for the Health and Safety Executive to complete its compliance checks to ensure that the information submitted by industry is of “sufficient quality”. The final deadline is now set at 2035 for no less than 20% of the dossiers received by the 2030 deadline to be checked for compliance. 

Principal consultant at TT Environmental, Janet Greenwood, described the measure as “good news” in her ‘Chemicals Coffee Time’ series on Linkedin. 

She has previously told ENDS: “While not as helpful as fully recognising EU-REACH registrations along the lines of the Swiss adoption of REACH, extending these deadlines will take the pressure off potential registrants and give them three more years to save up for data costs. 

“The deadline extensions should particularly help GB companies who previously bought from EU suppliers and now find themselves importers with liability for UK-REACH registration. It will also help companies outside GB who wish to register via an Only Representative.”

However, Scotland-based environmental charity, Fidra, echoed the concerns of many campaigners when it told ENDS it is worrying that the government “do not have data on chemicals on the UK market and that this situation is now set to continue to 2030”. 

This year, the government is expected to publish its Chemical Strategy – which was first announced in 2018 and has faced a series of delays. Two of the core aims of the strategy are to analyse UK REACH, and set out the process of the UK’s transition to UK REACH through the new ATR model. 

During a House of Lords debate over the SI held earlier this month, concerns were raised by the scrutiny committee about whether the implementation deadline for the ATR model of 2024 is achievable, which may see these deadlines pushed even further into the future. 

Lord Benyon, who chaired the debate, informed peers that the ATR is still set to be published for 2024, and confirmed that the latest estimated additional costs to businesses of the current model are £2 million by 2023. He also confirmed that the ATR model “will be subject to public consultation, will require the devolved administrations’ consent and will be brought back to Parliament for affirmative resolution”. 

Senior project officer at Fidra Hannah Evans told ENDS: “Whilst we continue to wait for the UK Chemicals Strategy, evidence of the damage already being caused by chemical pollution continues to grow. 

“We know current chemical management practices are not effective and we cannot delay action any further.”