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REACH—The Essential Guide

Posted: June 16, 2008

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With estimates showing around 30,000 substances supplied in quantities of one tonne or more per year on the European market, registering these items presents a significant challenge. To facilitate the process, the first phase is a pre-registration phase which provides companies with a six-month window (from June 1 until December 1, 2008) to submit a limited amount of data to the ECHA. By submitting data within this period, companies will be able to benefit from the staggered registration periods set in REACH for phase-in substances. 

The pre-registration phase is also in place to allow companies that manufacture or import the same substances to form groups or SIEF (substance information exchange forums) where data is shared to avoid duplication during the registration process. Here, participants must agree on the classification and labeling of their substances. They must provide other participants with existing research, respond to information requests and collectively identify the need for future studies and arrange for them to be carried out. 

This is followed by registration, where manufacturers and importers submit information dossiers on substances to the ECHA. Registration is based on two parameters: quantity and toxicity. The timeframe for the process from pre-registration to the final phases of registration is a decade. 

These initial deadlines have been set to ensure the most frequently-used and most toxic substances are assessed in the first phase. The substances and dossiers are then evaluated by the ECHA to confirm reliability of all submitted data and authorized for specified use. To place substances with properties that are deemed to be of “very high concern” on the market, an authorization process must be applied for by June 1, 2009. A company wishing to market or use such a substance must submit an application to the ECHA. Authorization is then decided by the European authorities.

Getting Ready for REACH