• Antony Kirrane

Brexit, REACH and the practical implications

Updated: Jan 30, 2019

My regular BREXIT update email dropped in my inbox this morning. Along with the typical news of events for Brits living in Spain and such, was a note about what happens to the REACH regulation.

The HSE have updated their guidance pointing out that there will be a UK REACH systems and companies will need to register, since the UK will be a third country with its own REACH like regulation.

See the HSE notes here:

Looking at the REACH statistics, the UK is second only to Germany in the number of registrations. ECHA have a wonderful infographic you can play with here:

As of 18th December 2018 (the last ECHA data update), UK based companies accounted for 13% of all EU registrations, lucky 13!!! Or not so lucky if you are one of those companies that now has to duplicate your dossier and submit it into a new system, a system that is yet to be even tested.


But thinking about the practicalities there are a few surprising things that will probably happen:

1. There will be fewer registrations overall

Yes, the number of registrations will actually reduce (probably). Many registrations were carried out at the 2018 deadline, meaning they were phase-in substances imported in amounts between 1 tonne and 100 tonnes per annum. If any of these were hovering around the lower end of that threshold, they may no-longer require registration if the manufacture/import is split between the UK and the EU. Imagine a substance was registered for an amount of 1.75 tonnes, imported from a third country but split evenly between France and the UK, this substance could go off ECHA's radar (and the UKs).

2. There will be fewer SVHC notifications

Similar to the above, SVHCs present in articles need to be notified where that overall import/use exceed 1 tonne per annum. Those hovering around the threshold will perhaps no longer need to continue with the notification

3. There will be less data sharing

When the EU and UK regulations become separated, there will be nothing compelling UK only based registrants to share any information with EU based registration. This means the second largest country for registration may no longer bring there data to the party.

4. There will be more animal testing

There will almost certainly be a small increase in the amount of animal testing. I'm no fan of animal testing but I respect the invaluable data it gives us to make us all safer. I really respect the efforts that REACH went to, to make companies share this data and thus reduce the amount of testing needed. Clearly, uncoupling these regulations means there will probably be more testing to do.


30th January update...

My clever friends at the British Toy and Hobby Association point out that there another twist to this breaking up of regulation; as a UK only registrant, you have been able to access data via the sharing principle and suddenly after Brexit you might not (see less data sharing above). EU registrations will be grandfathered into the UK system so if you were considering a REACH registration for whatever reason, consider getting it done by March 29th!


I don't want to overstate these problems, many of the registrations will be by multinationals, big and small and will find a way to streamline, minimising the impact. Nor is this a political rant, some may not see these as problems at all.

At lost of this is discussed in the UK government's own parliamentary paper of the subject:

So for all you people that enjoyed REACH the first time around, the really great news is that, in Britain, we get to do it all again!

Photo by Louis Reed on Unsplash

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