Expert Forecast: Possible UK REACH Changes on the Horizon

UK REACH (registration, evaluation, authorization and restriction of chemicals) went into effect in January 2021, and it has since remained closely aligned with EU REACH requirements and principles. As the dust of Brexit chaos settles, though, it is likely UK REACH requirements will eventually start departing from EU REACH — in small ways or large.

Here is where our global regulatory compliance experts foresee the greatest impacts to you and your UK compliance.

UK REACH May Not Uphold the Same EU ‘Gold Standard’

The EU, though far from perfect, has been a leader in setting environmental compliance standards to their highest levels. Many non-governmental organizations and activists fear UK REACH will not uphold these progressive stances against chemical pollutants and Substances of Very High Concern (SVHC). 

Already in March 2021, the UK REACH chemical restriction list included just two of the EU’s more than 12 additions. This could be a sign of lower restrictions for manufacturers and suppliers, but it could also just be the result of transition pains.

Greater Agility Could Mean Swifter UK REACH Regulation Changes

EU REACH comprises ECHA and its 27 member states — and any regulation requires EU agreement. UK REACH, on the other hand, could prove to be more agile than EU REACH, capable of making quick decisions and changes.

The UK HSE (Health and Safety Executive) is already looking to hire as many as 60 science experts within the chemical regulation division. It is too early to say whether or not this bulking up of the department will bring about intensive requirements for manufacturers. However, it is a sign that, now more than ever before, companies need to keep an ear out for upcoming changes and be prepared with long-term compliance strategies.

No Data, No Market Still Central to UK REACH

High-quality product data still remains a necessity for access to the UK markets. Brexit negotiations failed to secure a data-sharing agreement with the EU and therefore did not retain access to the ECHA database.

The UK will be building a new system from the ground up and will require full datasets on all grandfathered and new substances. This will be at a big expense to manufacturers and suppliers who do not have this information readily on hand.

Some in the industry are against this added cost. In April 2021 at an EU chemicals exit group meeting, there was a proposed compromise to request limited safety and use data for all data. Negotiations are still ongoing at the time of this writing.

Remain Diligent in Your Compliance Strategy

While the future of UK REACH is still unknown, what is certain in the compliance industry overall is that successful global product compliance demands attention, preparation and strategy.

For further support complying with UK REACH into the future, contact Tetra Tech’s compliance experts at [email protected]. Our global compliance team can help analyze your supply chain and implement a system for gathering necessary chemicals data. We can equip your compliance team with the skills and knowledge needed to report within UK REACH with accuracy and efficiency — contact us today.

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