ECHA finds widespread REACH failures

5th September 2013

Related Topics

Related tags

  • Engineering and metals ,
  • Chemicals ,
  • Manufacturing ,
  • Stewardship ,
  • Products



Inspections by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) found that more than two-thirds of firms using chemicals subject to REACH were not compliant

Downstream users of chemicals were the focus of the second ECHA project examining REACH enforcement, and, of the 1,181 firms visited by the agency between May 2011 and March 2012, 67% had not met the requirements of the REACH Regulation (EC 1907/2006) and the CLP Regulation (EC 1272/2008) – which covers the classification, labeling and packaging of chemicals.

Downstream users are companies that use chemicals to formulate new substances or to create metals, for example, and the most common failings were related to the registration and notification requirements demanded by REACH. The ECHA found, for example, that 28% of firms formulating mixtures were unaware of the registration status of the substances they were using.

The agency also reports that some firms had inadequate risk-management measures in place, while others did not provide customers with sufficient information on hazardous chemicals.

The inspections also highlighted a significant problem with the quality of safety data sheets (SDS), which are mandatory and describe the hazards presented by a chemical as well as provide information on handling, storage and emergency measures in case of accident.

Of the 4,500 SDSs examined by the agency, more than half (52%) were deficient in some way. Common failings related to the information provided on potential hazards, the composition of substances and exposure controls. Companies often had difficulties in sourcing SDSs in their national language, says the ECHA.

While the latest data reveal that more firms had SDSs in place compared to 2009-11, when the agency carried out its first enforcement project – 97% compared with 87% – the ECHA concluded that the quality of SDSs confirm that more must be done to help firms understand the requirements of REACH.

“Awareness and knowledge on REACH among smaller downstream user companies is sometimes very low or even non-existent. This is a matter of concern and should be monitored,” states the findings.

The agency calls on the chemicals industry to pay more attention to how the communicate information on hazardous chemicals to suppliers, and to do more to help downstream users understand REACH. It also recommends that businesses affected by the Regulation consider implementing document management systems to help ensure compliance.

Susanne Baker, senior climate and environment policy adviser at EEF, said the projects findings were to be expected.

“EEF has consistently highlighted to the authorities low levels of awareness of REACH among downstream users: many simply are unaware that REACH impacts on their business,” she commented. “A survey of our members last year showed 20% of manufacturers didn't think REACH was applicable to them, a further 30% said it wasn’t important to their business.

“The reality is that all professional users of chemicals, whether they are used individually, in mixtures or even in products, are impacted by REACH, potentially in a profound way.”

Baker called on the regulators to do more to raise awareness of the impacts of REACH.

“ECHA has a key role here along with the European Commission to coordinate efforts across the EU,” she said.

The second REACH enforcement project inspected firms across the 26 EU states, plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. Of the 1,181 firms inspected, just 20 were in the UK.

Transform articles

Major update to GRI reporting standards unveiled

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) has today unveiled the most significant changes to its reporting standards since 2016, setting a new benchmark for corporate sustainability.

5th October 2021

Read more

The Royal Botanic Gardens (RBG) in Kew has today unveiled a new strategy to tackle biodiversity loss and develop sustainable nature-based solutions to some of humanity’s biggest global challenges.

28th September 2021

Read more

Seven of the UK's 17 key industry sectors are still increasing their emissions year-on-year, and most will miss their 2050 net-zero targets without significant government action, new research suggests.

23rd September 2021

Read more

Given the proper investment and resources, the UK’s further education system can play a significant role in improving sustainability, argues Charlotte Bonner

23rd September 2021

Read more

A group of 12 leading investment consultancy firms, which advise organisations managing around $10trn (£7.3trn) in assets, have launched a new initiative to help deliver net-zero emissions by 2050.

22nd September 2021

Read more

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has published a new 'Green Claims Code' to ensure businesses are not misleading consumers about their environmental credentials.

22nd September 2021

Read more

The UK government has been “too city-focused” in its climate action and must provide more funding and support to reduce emissions in rural areas, the County Councils Network (CCN) has said.

22nd September 2021

Read more

In 2020, amid the global crisis created by the COVID-19 pandemic, we saw numerous cross-sector collaborations involving tech companies, aiming to create smart solutions that would amplify positive environmental and social impacts across sectors and organisations – for example in online healthcare or mRNA vaccine platform technology. This led the public health crisis to be referred to as “the digital accelerant of the decade” by US cloud communications platform Twilio.

30th July 2021

Read more

The UK's largest defined benefit (DB) pension schemes have received a letter from the Make My Money Matter campaign urging them to set net-zero emission targets ahead of the COP26 climate summit later this year.

26th July 2021

Read more

Media enquires

Looking for an expert to speak at an event or comment on an item in the news?

Find an expert