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Chemicals compliance deadline looms for small companies

Small businesses manufacturing or importing chemicals need to ensure they are compliant with the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) regulations if they want to continue trading after May 2018.

That’s the deadline for organisations manufacturing or importing between 1 and 100 tonnes a year to comply with the European law, which has been in force since 2008 for those handling larger volumes and for all new chemicals introduced to the EU market since then.

“By 31 May 2018, companies that manufacture chemical substances or import them from outside the EU above one tonne per year have to register the substances to stay legally on the market,” said Andreas Herdina, Director of Cooperation and SME Ambassador at the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA).

“Additionally, companies that manufacture or import a product – whether a mixture or article – may need to register each of the substances contained in the product individually.”

Some small firms have expressed concerns over how the regulations could affect their businesses. FSB member Derek Harris, Director of AAA Solutions which manufactures Classic Coolant engine coolant, estimates the cost of training alone would be around £3,000.

He adds that his US-based supplier is not prepared to go through the process in order to ship the product into the UK or to divulge the formula. “It will kill my business,” he says. 

FSB is urging those who might be affected by the regulations to find out now what they need to do to comply, or to make arrangements to use other chemicals not affected by REACH.

“REACH is a well intentioned piece of regulation which seeks to remove the most damaging chemicals from everyday use,” said Allen Creedy, FSB Energy and Environment Chair. “However, the impact on some small businesses could be enormous, and they clearly need greater support and flexibility to manage this transition. Otherwise, some will be forced out of business.”

He stresses that the UK’s decision to leave the EU is unlikely to affect the requirements, given that the UK will remain a member for at least another two years, and that many manufacturers are likely to want to export to the EU.

FSB is keen to hear from other members who have been affected by the regulations, who can email Andrew.Poole@fsb.org.uk

For more information on the regulations, visit echa.europa.eu/reach-2018 or reachready.co.uk