The REACH legislation has now been in place since 2006, and as phased implementation has been progressing over the past 8 years, the consequences for actors that do not comply with the legislation have become more obvious.

REACH is enforced in each European Member State by the Competent Authority for that state. Thus far, there has been little information available on enforcement activities by these authorities. However, the Danish Environmental Protection Agency has recently passed details of a Danish company to the police for investigation following the failure of that company to comply with REACH.

The retailer, whose name has not been disclosed, operates retail stores across Europe, importing through Denmark. The retailer in question had failed to register 12 substances for which they had a registration obligation. Pre-registrations for all 12 substances had already been submitted. The EPA, calling the failure to register a “serious offence”, has said that the company in question had saved a “significant amount” compared to its competitors by breaking the law. All 12 substances had previously been registered by other companies.

In addition to legal enforcement, REACH has been heavily enforced by the marketplace and through supply chain demands. To this end, a survey by the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) was carried out on the experiences of businesses after the registration deadlines of 2010 and 2013.

Of the 179 businesses surveyed, 25 have withdrawn a substance from the market solely for REACH related reasons. In the majority of cases, the cost of REACH registration was too high for the potential registrants. These withdrawals have caused further headaches for Downstream Users further down the supply chain.

The majority of companies reported REACH registration costs of between €60,000 and €120,000. One business reported costs of over €6 million, with ten reporting costs in excess of €1 million. The bulk of costs were made up by the purchase of a Letter of Access to gain access to a Joint Submission. In general, respondents to the survey complained about the quality of information passed up and down the supply chain.

With the REACH deadline of 2018 looming for all substances imported in quantities of 1 tonne or greater, now is the time to act to ensure a smooth registration process. By registering substances in a phased basis over the next 4 years, budgets can be drawn up and decisions on continued sale of a substance can be made. If you believe you have any substances with a 2018 deadline, contact us now at H2 Compliance; we will be your guide to continued compliance within the EU.

Sources; Danish Ministry of the Environment, UK Defra, Chemical Watch 2014.

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