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The REACH Regulation, which came into force on June 1, 2007, marks a fundamental reform of European chemicals legislation. REACH regulates the registration, evaluation, authorization and restriction of chemicals. The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) was created in Helsinki to oversee implementation of the REACH program.
From June 1, 2008, there has been an obligation to register chemical substances. From June 1 to December 1, 2008, producers and importers had to pre-register all existing substances (phase-in substances), some of which have been on the European market for decades, with the ECHA. Under the REACH legislation, Henkel, as a formulator, is mainly a downstream user of chemicals. However, Henkel is also an importer and producer of chemicals. As such, Henkel has pre-registered all produced or imported phase-in substances. In its dealings with the ECHA, Henkel AG & Co. KGaA acts as the legal representative of all Henkel companies in Europe and has carried out centrally all pre-registrations needed to ensure that it can continue to conduct its business. The transition period for registration of chemicals has been split into three phases with different deadlines according to the annual tonnages involved:
Phase 1: > 1,000 tonnes + especially health-hazardous substances: November 2010
Phase 2: > 100 tonnes: May 2013
Phase 3: > 1 tonne: May 2018.
The next step (after pre-registration) on the way to the registration of a substance is the formation of a Substance Information Exchange Forum (SIEF). The purpose of the SIEF is to foster the exchange of already available information and data on the safety of the chemical substance among all potential registrants. This is intended to avoid unnecessary and costly testing of substances. Henkel’s SIEF activities are carried out by its Corporate Product Safety experts. Supported by its Corporate Product Safety and Corporate Analytics departments, Henkel successfully completed its Phase 1 and Phase 2 registrations in due time. Activities for Phase 3 registrations (2018) and potential authorizations have already been started.
As a second milestone, on September 3, 2008, the European Parliament approved the regulation on the classification, labeling and packaging of substances and mixtures (the CLP Regulation). The existing European legislation on hazard classification, labeling and safe packaging of chemicals will therefore be largely replaced by the United Nations’ Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS). The GHS is a result of the UN environment summits of Rio de Janeiro in 1992 and Johannesburg in 2002. Its aim is the global harmonization of regulations for greater safety in international trade and in the handling of chemicals and chemical products.
After New Zealand and Japan, the European Union (EU) is the first major economic region to integrate the GHS systematically into its legislation. There are signs that numerous countries will follow their example, initially in the Asia-Pacific region. As a globally operating company, Henkel welcomes this. Henkel experts have been observing the development of the GHS from its very beginning. In particular, Henkel has successfully advocated the meaningful application of the new labeling obligations to consumer products in the area of laundry detergents and household cleaners. In the EU, the hazard and precautionary labeling of chemicals has been adjusted by June 1, 2010, and that of chemical products will follow latest by June 1, 2015.
Based on the goals of the United Nations, the International Council of Chemical Associations (ICCA) launched an initiative called Global Product Strategy (GPS). The GPS initiative aims to improve and harmonize the level of product stewardship performance throughout the global chemical industry. It is directed above all at regions and nations which had either no or only a low level of standards for safe handling of chemicals. Its intention is to reduce the divide between developing, emerging and industrial markets and to raise safety standards, while creating a basis for fair competition on a global level. For chemical companies in the EU, the implementation of REACH, GHS and GPS goes hand in hand. An important aspect is that the GPS requirements additionally apply to substances that are manufactured at sites outside the EU and which are marketed from there.
As a responsible and globally operating company, Henkel therefore also supports the objectives of the Global Product Strategy.