According to Geert Dancet, executive director of the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), there will be no extension of the pre-registration period for REACH which begins on June 1, 2008. According to the executive director, “despite delays in issuing guidance, the pre-registration period could not be extended without amending the regulation.” The deadline for pre-registration under REACH is November 30, 2008. Nearly all guidance needed for registration is to be issued by May with most of the remaining guidance dealing with authorization and restrictions of chemicals published by the end of 2008.
By January 1, 2009, ECHA will publish a list of pre-registered substances on its web site. If a chemical needed by a downstream user is not on that list, the downstream user will have six months to contact chemical manufacturers to ask them to register the chemical.
In a report released by the US Trade Representative’s (USTR) office, 2008 National Trade Estimate Report on Foreign Trade Barriers, it is noted that “REACH does not appear to provide producers of cosmetics imported into the European Union the benefit of any transition period to register their ingredients, whereas comparable domestic products may benefit from a three year to 11 year transition period.”
The USTR was referring to the fact that chemicals used to make cosmetics must be registered under REACH if they are made in or shipped to Europe in volumes of more than 1 metric ton. Industrial chemicals that are already sold in the European Union have staggered, phased-in registration deadlines with the chemicals being sold in the smallest volumes, 1 to 10 metric tons, having until May 31, 2018, to submit their registration packages.
US cosmetics manufacturers have expressed concern to ECHA and USTR that some of the natural ingredients they use would not be listed in the European Inventory of Existing Commercial Chemical Substances (EINECS) and therefore would not qualify for the phase-in deadlines. According to ECHA, this confusion has arisen, in part, from the fact that US firms named their cosmetic ingredients in ways that differed from the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry approach accepted in the European Union. Dancet has stressed that the EU wants to find a suitable solution to this, but still more work needs to be done to address the cosmetics industry’s concerns.
The USTR’s report also said, “[T]he United States has urged the European Commission to provide guidance on the ‘candidate’ list of substances of very high concern to ensure that downstream users do not use this as a ‘black list,’ and to ensure that specific uses of substances and viable alternatives have had the benefit of a risk assessment. Guidance should clarify that without going through this step, premature substitution could have negative environmental or public health effects while greatly increasing costs.” ECHA has asked member states to nominate by June 1, 2008, chemicals they think should be on that final list.