REACH is the Regulation for Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals. It entered into force on 01 June 2007 to streamline and improve the former legislative framework on chemicals in the EU.
REACH switches most responsibility of control and safety of chemicals from authorities, to chemical manufacturers, importers and users and places greater responsibility on industry to manage risks that chemicals may pose to human health and the environment. REACH also aims to promote alternative methods for the assessment of hazards of substances and eliminate unnecessary testing, especially on animals.
Both “new” and “existing” substances are covered by REACH. All substances manufactured or imported into the EU in quantities greater than or equal to one tonne per year must be registered with the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) in its central database. REACH applies to all chemicals – not just those used in industrial processes, but also to household products and those used in articles (unless specifically exempted).
In Ireland, the Health and Safety Authority (HSA), the Environmental Protection Agency and the Minister for Agriculture Fisheries & Food have been designated under the Chemicals Act 2008 as the competent authorities for REACH.
The European Commission has prepared a draft guidance document clarifying the REACH obligations regarding waste and recovered substances. This document has been handed over to ECHA for further development in co-operation with Member States and relevant stakeholders with a view to its subsequent integration into the relevant REACH guidance documents.