EEB: REACH has made a difference but still needs to be implemented properly

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Source: European Environmental Bureau (EEB)

Brussels — 10 years after chemicals legislation under REACH coming into force, much more has to be done to protect people and the environment effectively. Europe’s flagship chemicals legislation, REACH, has shown high potential but it needs to be properly implemented and developed further, says the European Environmental Bureau (EEB).

The REACH regulation went significantly further than other legislations, introducing new groundbreaking principles such as ‘no data, no market’, substitution, building on the precautionary principle and placing the burden of proving the safety of chemicals on companies. REACH has become a global model and even companies recognise it has helped them improve communication on hazards and to become more proactive on chemicals management. However the underlying principles of REACH are not being applied.

Dolores Romano, Senior Policy Officer – Chemicals and Nanotechnology with the European Environmental Bureau, stated: “The principle of ‘no data, no market’ is not in place as ECHA [European Chemicals Agency] provides registration numbers, hence access to the market, to all registration dossiers by default, even to incomplete, inadequate and irrelevant dossiers. The burden of proof has not been shifted to industry. The extremely poor information provided by companies in the registration dossiers shifts the burden to Member State authorities and to ECHA Committees to complete the information needed for managing its risks.”

Although REACH provisions are underpinned by the precautionary principle, it is not being applied when taking decisions on restrictions or granting authorisations. Romano continued: “And finally, by granting authorisation to all applicants asking to continue using substances of very high concern, even when alternatives are available, the Commission is undermining the aims of the regulation, thus hampering innovation and penalising companies that have created safer substitutes..”

Pieter De Pous, EU Policy Director at the European Environmental Bureau, added: “REACH has shown what it can do to protect people and the environment, but we need rock solid political commitment to effectively enforce it.”

Source: European Environmental Bureau (EEB)