REACH is the Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 December 2006 concerning the Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals. It entered into force on 1 June 2007 and replaced a previous set of laws related to chemicals substances. It is complementary to other environmental and safety legislation but does not replace sector specific legislation (for example, legislation on cosmetics or medical devices). REACH gives greater responsibility to industry to manage the risks from chemicals and to provide safety information on the substances, including substances in mixtures and substances in articles. Manufacturers and importers are required to gather information on the properties of their chemical substances, which is aimed at allowing their safe handling, and to register the information with the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA).
REACH applies to all chemicals, as well as users of chemicals and thus the legislation virtually affects all industries doing business in Europe, including the nonwovens industry.
REACH requires all manufacturers and importers of chemicals to identify and manage the risks linked to the substances they manufacture and market. Those companies who manufacture or import substances in quantities of 1 tonne or more per year per legal entity, must submit Registration dossiers to ECHA. However, if a company places articles with intentionally released substances on the EU market, then that ‘articles manufacturer’ may also have to submit a Registration dossier for those intentionally released substances.
Substances registered may be subject to Evaluation by ECHA and the Member States. Evaluation looks at various aspects of Registration dossiers and can result in a variety of consequences for registrants. At the most basic level, authorities may ask registrants to update aspects of their dossiers, or even to implement stricter risk management measures than they currently do. Further, depending on the hazard profile of the substance and its exposure to humans and the environment, authorities may use Evaluation as a basis for more directly regulating that substance in specific products.
REACH also includes an Authorisation system, aimed at ensuring that Substances of Very High concern (SVHCs) are adequately controlled, and progressively substituted by safer substances or technologies, or only used where there is an overall benefit for society of using the substance. Via a system of prioritisation, SVHCs are added to the Candidate List for Authorisation and possible inclusion in Annex XIV of the Regulation. Once on the Candidate List, various information obligations, to ECHA and within the supply chain, may apply if those substances are present in any component of an article in quantities greater than 0.1% weight by weight. Further, if present in mixtures in quantities greater than 0.1% weight by weight, it is mandatory to prepare a Safety Data Sheet (SDS) mentioning the substance’s name.
Further, once a substance moves beyond the Candidate List to be listed in Annex XIV, and after an applicable ‘sunset date,’ EU-based companies must submit an application to the European Commission for authorisation to continue using the substance. Overall, the Authorisation system is designed to encourage EU industry to phase out, wherever possible, the use of Annex XIV substances altogether.
Under REACH, authorities may also impose specific Restrictions on the manufacture, use or placing on the market of chemical substances causing an unacceptable risk to human health or the environment. These specific Restrictions are listed in Annex XVII of REACH, and include various Restrictions on substances in mixtures, as well as substances in articles like Absorbent Hygiene Products Various existing Restrictions were carried over from legislation existing before REACH.
More information in the ECHA Website
EDANA provides its members in the nonwovens and related industries with support and guidance on the regulations for the registration, evaluation, authorisation and restriction of chemicals, commonly known as ‘REACH’. Due to its complexity, the industry may be subject to new challenges as requirements come into place, however EDANA believes that there will be many opportunities that the nonwovens industry can use to highlight the close cooperation between suppliers and converters, and provide additional information to customers and external stakeholders.
Across the entire supply chain and throughout all product categories, the nonwovens industry takes its responsibilities seriously, providing high quality products which comply with and often exceed legislative requirements.