Q&A: Keeping chemicals compliant in a global market

With the upcoming deadline for the registration of low-volume chemicals in May 2018, Dr. Richard Kemp, Operations Manager at Catexel discusses the importance, and complexities, of global compliance for chemicals.

Q:  What impact will the REACH registration deadline for existing chemicals mean for the chemicals industry?

The late registration deadline for existing chemicals is the 31st May 2018. While that may still seem like a long way off, companies that manufacture or import substances between 1-100 tonnes a year have a big job on their hands. The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) currently estimates that up to 60,000 registrations will be prepared for up to 25,000 substances which is three times more than for previous deadlines. That’s a lot of paperwork and preparation of data, particularly for smaller businesses who are often less experienced when it comes to preparing these detailed registrations.  

Meeting the deadline for registration is essential for these businesses to be able to keep trading chemicals on the market and avoid any interruptions in the availability of substances caused by non-registration. For companies further down the supply chain, it’s important to start enquiring now about whether the chemicals they rely on for their processes or formulations are being registered to avoid any complications further down the line.

The REACH 2018 Roadmap, published in 2015, provides a useful outline of the registration process covering key stages including working with co-registrants and assessing any hazards or risks.  

Q: What do you think are the biggest challenges for the chemicals market when it comes to regulatory compliance?

Since there is no harmonised global registration process for chemicals, registration is dependent upon where in the world they are being made, sold and used.

For a UK-based company like Catexel, the major markets of Europe, which operates under the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation & restriction of Chemicals (REACH) regulations or the US, which operates under TSCA (Toxic Substances Control Act) administered by Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), are the key pieces of legislation to comply with.

New territories which are becoming more active in the sale and development of chemicals will inevitably introduce new regulations that will have to be complied with. It’s therefore beneficial for chemical companies to have an overview of what’s coming from a regulatory perspective, and when, so they can maximize opportunities to sell in these new markets.

To meet the REACH registration deadline next Spring, laboratories and regulatory professionals will be under immense pressure to complete all the necessary testing and paperwork in order to submit on time. Additional pressure is being applied on these resources due to the number of dossiers from previous registration deadlines in 2010/13 requiring additional testing or re-working in some way to allow continued supply of the given chemical. This re-working of dossiers undermines efforts to create an accurate and comprehensive database of existing chemicals and instead, the industry should invest the time up-front and complete the submission right first time round to save further work in the future.

Q: How does Catexel support customers in being compliant with global regulations?

Companies developing chemicals have a responsibility to register them with the appropriate regulatory body. We support our customers, who work in a variety of markets including coatings, detergents and textiles, with securing global registrations for the markets they sell in. When dealing with chemical regulation and legislative requirements we partner with regulatory experts Exponent International who support our approach to broadening the application of new and existing products in an increasingly complex landscape.

Our customers are under pressure to do more with less and faster than ever before – it’s often about being compliant but with minimum spend. Therefore, even during the research and development phase it’s important to consider what the regulatory requirements are in the target market and how long compliance will take.  If this is not evaluated upfront, there is a risk that R&D investment will be wasted on a substance that ultimately won’t be viable or has missed its market opportunity.

Our ultimate aim is to support our customers in delivering solutions that make industrial processes faster, cleaner and safer based on a commercially robust, technically strong and regulatory compliant foundation.

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