If you work with hazardous substances as a company, you are most probably familiar with REACH. REACH stems from the European Regulation on Registration, Evaluation, Restriction of Chemicals and Authorisation of CHemicals, and came into force on 1 June 2007. The REACH regulation is very extensive, including all its annexes, amounting to around 1350 pages. In the Netherlands the regulation is elaborated in titles 9.2 and 9.3 of the Environmental Management Act (WM).
In this blog I will discuss the following three topics: the registration requirement under REACH, the amended regulations and the REACH Agency.
The registration obligation under REACH
Importers and downstream users of dangerous products must register information about these products. The main purpose of this obligation is to provide a high level of protection for people and the environment. Each country has a designated authority where the product is registered. In each country where a product is placed on the market, the product must be registered: so if a product is placed on the market both in the Netherlands and in Belgium, the product must be registered in both countries. In the Netherlands, the product is registered at the National Poisons Information Centre (NVIC of the UMC Utrecht).
Due to the entry into force of EU Regulation 2017/542, Annex VIII has been added to the aforementioned EU Regulation 1727/2008. Annex VIII contains information on: (1) which product information must be supplied, (2) the electronic format in which the information must be supplied and (3) the Unique Formula Identification (UFI) that must be stated on the label of a hazardous product. A distributor may not market a mixture if (1) the NVIC has not received a submission in relation to Annex VIII or (2) the NVIC has received an incomplete submission from the supplier.
The Annex takes effect in stages. In the first step, the rules of and format for changes to existing or new product notifications for consumer and professional products change. The practical consequence of this is that the information no longer needs to be submitted directly to the NVIC, but as of 01-01-2021 must be submitted via an online portal of the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA). The ECHA is responsible for the distribution of the information to the correct member states. In the second step, industrial products will follow on 01-01-2024 and finally on 01-01-2025 all existing product notifications will have to be submitted again according to the new rules.
The REACH agency
The REACH regulation obliges the member states, in Article 121, to appoint a competent authority to be responsible for performing the tasks assigned to the competent authority in the regulation and for cooperating with the European Commission and the European Chemicals Agency. In the Netherlands, the Minister of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment (currently the Minister of Infrastructure and Water Management) is the competent authority pursuant to Article 9.3.2 of the WM. The REACH Agency was established to perform the tasks assigned to the Minister. According to Article 2 of the Decree establishing the REACH Agency, the agency is established at the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) and is part of the Substances Expertise Centre (SEC). The REACH Agency can answer practical questions about REACH, such as what information the product identification of mixture components must contain.
It is important that you pay close attention to whether you are acting in accordance with the provisions of REACH. Breaches of the provisions of REACH can be punished by a prison sentence of up to 6 years or a fine of the fifth category (€82,000).
Do you have doubts whether you act in accordance with REACH? Or do you have other legal questions? Please feel free to contact one of our lawyers.
This blog entry has been posted on May 17, 2022.