New tool to improve REACH dossiers

12th February 2013

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The European Chemicals Agency has launched a software tool to boost the quality of REACH registrations, after the European Commission called for improvements

Under the REACH Regulation, which came into force in 2007, companies that manufacture chemicals in the EU or import them into the bloc must register and report on their use to the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA).

The “dossier quality assistant” tool is an addition to the ECHA’s existing IUCLID 5 software programme, which firms use to check through REACH registration documents before submitting them.

The tool will run automatically and identify potential problems with the dossier, including issues with substance identity, tonnage consistency and descriptions of use. The tool then provides links to information on how registrants can rectify the issues.

The launch of the quality tool follows the publication of the European Commission’s review of REACH on 5 February, which concluded that the system is functioning well, but that the quality of registration documents was a concern.

The first five years of REACH has seen more than 30,600 dossiers registered with the ECHA, describing around 7,900 chemicals manufactured in or imported into the EU.

With more information readily available on substances, better risk-management measures in place and more firms substituting the most hazardous substances, REACH is on track to meet its target of protecting human health and the environment across the bloc, says the commission.

The level playing field created by the regulation has also helped to improve competitiveness and growth in the sector, it confirms.

However, the review warned that “many registration dossiers have been found to be non-compliant”; that registrants were failing to adequately assess persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic properties of chemicals; and that there were problems with the content and format of the extended safety data sheet (what’s that?).

The commission also argues that more must be done to reduce the administrative and financial burden of REACH on small businesses, and that member states could do more to improve enforcement of the rules.

Janez Potočnik, environment commissioner for environment, said the review confirmed that REACH works, but that more must be done to ensure substances do not pose risks to health and the environment.

“We are off to a good start, and this would not have been possible without persistent efforts by the ECHA. However, there is still work to be done to ensure a high level of protection of human health and the environment,” he commented.

“We are committed to maintaining a safe and sustainable chemical industry in Europe. REACH, the most comprehensive chemicals legislation in the world, can help us achieve this goal.”

With the approaching 31 May deadline for 2013 registrations, the ECHA is calling for REACH registrants to download the new dossier quality assistant and revise their documents accordingly before submitting them.

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