Information Sharing throughout the Value Chain
This regulation fully and radically transforms the existing chemicals legislation. It is intended to close information gaps regarding the hazardous properties of approximately 30,000 substances and to ensure that the information required for their safe use is supplied across the entire value chain. Manufacturers and importers are obliged to compile comprehensive data on the characteristics of materials that they use, produce or import in quantities of more than one ton per year. In a relevant registration dossier, they have to provide proof that it is safe to use these materials. Unregistered substances will be banned for production or import into the EU market.
With the REACH legislation, the industry is facing a reversal of the burden of proof. This means that – instead of the authorities – both manufacturers and importers of chemicals become responsible for testing and risk assessment. They have to assess the safety of their substances and suggest measures to ensure and minimize risks to human beings and the environment. In addition, also downstream users get involved into the compilation of data as they can provide meaningful information on the chemicals' use in applications.
For managing the necessary processes, a new European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) has been established in Helsinki. It handles the registration of the chemicals in a new database, ensures the quality of the registration data and, in cooperation with national authorities, elaborates a subsequent plan for the evaluation of substances.
At the end of the process, all companies using a certain substance will be held responsible for complying with the security measures decided at European level by applying the safety instructions forwarded throughout the value chain.