REACH stands for Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemical substances and is by far the most important change ever to the legislation on chemical substances. REACH aims to protect the health of people and the environment while also protecting the industry.
- promotes knowledge of REACH in Belgium
- urges the European and national governments to adopt a pragmatic application of REACH in the chemical industry
- supports companies in implementing REACH.
European companies have been subject to legislation governing chemical substances since 1967. Legislation that was regarded as insufficiently effective. There was insufficient knowledge of the hazards posed by many substances while information often continued to circulate inside the company, the risks posed by substances failing to be communicated to (industrial) customers.
In 2001 the European Commission decided to act. After many years of discussions, the European Parliament approved the REACH regulation at the end of 2006.
No data, no market
REACH obliges companies in Europe to gather and disseminate information on the properties and risks of chemical substances to ensure that they can be used safely.
The basic principle of REACH is simple: “no data, no market”. Before a company can market a substance it must show that it can be used in safety throughout the chain, from raw material to end product. Given the large number of substances, the REACH legislation has set a series of deadlines through to 2018, by which time all chemical substances must be registered with the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) in Helsinki.