Achieve REACH Compliance in 3 Steps: A Guide to the REACH Regulation

Last modified:
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December 2023
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Dr Steven Brennan
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The REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation, and Restriction of Chemicals) regulation stands as a cornerstone of environmental and human health protection within the European Economic Area (EEA) and Great Britain (GB). EU REACH applies to the EEA and Northern Ireland while UK REACH applies to GB.

Understanding REACH Compliance

REACH compliance is crucial for any entity that imports, manufactures, or markets substances, mixtures, or articles within the EEA and GB. Compliance entails fulfilling all regulatory obligations, ensuring that physical goods meet the standards set forth by REACH, unless exempted. Notably, REACH does not mandate a specific document, such as a REACH certificate, for proof of compliance. Instead, it requires a comprehensive understanding of the regulatory duties applicable to a business's operations and the diligent fulfilment of these obligations.

  1. Identify your REACH role and the type of object that you handle
  2. Confirm your REACH obligations
  3. Take action to maintain REACH compliance

Who Should Refer to This Guide?

This guide is an invaluable resource for companies or individuals involved in manufacturing, using, trading, or placing physical goods on the EEA and GB markets. Maintaining REACH compliance can be a multifaceted task, requiring coordinated efforts across various business functions, including sourcing, manufacturing, research and development, environment, health and safety, marketing, customer services, product development, distribution, and quality assurance.

Step 1: Identify Your Role and Object

The first step in ensuring REACH compliance is to identify your role within the supply chain and the nature of the object you handle. The role type will depend on how your business operates. The key roles under REACH include:

  • Importer: Responsible for bringing goods into the EEA or GB from outside regions.
  • Manufacturer: Engaged in the production of substances within the EEA or GB.
  • Downstream User: Utilises substances or mixtures in their industrial or professional activities.
  • Distributor: Involved in the storage and placing on the market of substances, mixtures, or articles.

Understanding whether the object in question is a substance, mixture, or article is equally critical. This classification influences the specific REACH obligations that apply to your operations.

  • Substances: A substance is defined as a chemical element and its compounds in their natural state or obtained by any manufacturing process. These include additives necessary to preserve the stability of the product and any impurities derived from the process used, but exclude any solvent which may be separated without affecting the stability of the substance or changing its composition. Substances can exist in various forms including liquids, solids, and gases.
  • Mixtures: A mixture is a combination or solution composed of two or more substances. These can include, for instance, paint, cleaning products, and even some consumer goods. It is important to note that in a mixture, the individual substances retain their unique chemical identities.
  • Articles: An article under REACH is an object which during production is given a special shape, surface, or design that determines its function to a greater degree than its chemical composition. Examples of articles include electronic chips, a car, clothing items, and furniture. A key aspect of an article is that it does not release substances under normal or reasonably foreseeable conditions of use.

Step 2: Understand Your REACH Obligations

Once you've identified your role and the nature of the object, the next step is to acquaint yourself with the specific obligations under the REACH legislation. This involves delving into the EU and UK REACH legal texts, which are structured into titles, chapters, and articles. Each article sets out specific enacting terms, which may include paragraphs, subparagraphs, points, indents, or sentences. An example is Article 6, which outlines the general obligation to register substances on their own or in mixtures.

Got questions about your REACH obligations? Schedule a call with our experts. We're here to help clarify your role and obligations under REACH.

Step 3: Take Action to Maintain Compliance

After understanding your obligations, the next step is taking appropriate action. For instance, if you're an importer or manufacturer handling more than one tonne of a substance annually, you must register with the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA). The registration process involves creating substance identity data, preparing an Inquiry dossier using the IUCLID software, submitting the dossier via REACH-IT, and paying the registration fees. It's important to note that the process for EU REACH and UK REACH compliance may differ, necessitating a clear understanding of the specific requirements for each.

Ready to take the next step in REACH compliance? Contact us for guidance on the registration process and tailored advice for your specific situation.

Continuous Compliance and Regulatory Updates

REACH compliance is not a one-off task but requires continuous monitoring and updating of business practices in line with regulatory changes. Businesses must stay informed about amendments to REACH legislation, new guidance documents, and emerging best practices. This proactive approach ensures ongoing compliance and minimises the risk of non-compliance penalties.

Need assistance in staying compliant with the ever-changing REACH regulations? We're just a message away. Visit our contact page for ongoing support and updates.

Expert Assistance and Consultation

Given the complexity of REACH regulations, seeking expert assistance can be invaluable. Regulatory consultants offer specialised knowledge and can provide tailored advice to navigate the nuances of REACH compliance. They can assist in identifying roles, understanding obligations, and implementing the necessary steps for compliance.

Navigating REACH regulations can be complex. If you need expert assistance, don't hesitate to contact us. Our team is ready to provide the support and advice you need

Embracing REACH for Sustainable Business Practices

REACH compliance is more than a regulatory requirement; it is an opportunity for businesses to align with sustainable and responsible practices, contributing positively to environmental and public health. By adhering to REACH regulations, companies not only comply with legal requirements but also demonstrate their commitment to safety, sustainability, and corporate responsibility.

Interested in aligning your business practices with REACH for a sustainable future? We'd love to discuss how we can help. Get in touch.

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