On 20 January, the European Commission launched the long-awaited consultation on the revision of the Regulation on the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation, and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH). The deadline for submitting contributions is 15 April.
The revision of REACH is part of the Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability (CSS), adopted by the European Commission in October 2020, and follows the public consultation on Hazard Classification, Labelling, and Packaging of Chemicals (CLP), launched in August last year.
The Chemical Strategy for Sustainability aims to ensure that the provisions of the REACH Regulation reflect the Commission's ambitions on innovation and high level of health and environmental protection. The Commission, therefore, aims to move further towards a cleaner and greener production and use of chemicals within the EU.
For this reason, the REACH revision will explicitly address pivotal elements of the framework such as the assessment of substances (i.e. hazard-based or risk-based approach), the potential overhaul of the authorisation and restriction processes, and the possible inclusion of the essential use concept.
In addition, stakeholders will be asked to share their views on other equally relevant issues such as the introduction of the so-called Mixtures Assessment Factors (a tool to account for the risks from mixtures of substances during the risk and safety assessment of individual chemicals), new mechanisms to make communication throughout the supply chain easier (including harmonised electronic formats), and the revision of provisions for control and enforcement. Moreover, several questions address additional requirements for low tonnage substances as well as their environmental impact.
Commissioner for the Internal Market, Thierry Breton, stressed that this review is aimed at introducing changes that will benefit the quality of the environment and people's lives, while preserving and supporting innovation in the chemical industry, in line with the objectives of the CSS. Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans, and Fisheries, Virginijus Sinkevičius, stated that the revision of REACH will allow the EU to move closer to its objective of achieving a completely toxic-free environment.
Industry, however, has long stressed the possible unintended consequences the introduction of new regulatory requirements under REACH could have on the competitiveness and resilience of EU supply chains as well as questioned the overall beneficial impact of the revision compared to the benefits already achieved via the current REACH framework.
Feedback collected during the consultation will be analysed to complete the European Commission’s impact assessment, which is expected to be finalised by the end of the summer. Following this, the proposal for REACH revision will be sent to the European Parliament and the Council, who will have the opportunity to accept the Commission's text with the adjustments they deem essential.