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    Navigating the EU’s Chemical Rules and Regulations: Part 1

    14 February 2024 - Evotix


    The European Union (EU) has recently unveiled proposed chemical rules and regulations, marking a significant step toward creating safer and healthier environment, health and safety management (EHS) work environments.

    Key regulations such as REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals) since 2007 and CLP (Classification, Labelling and Packaging) since 2009 compel manufacturers to provide detailed information about the chemicals used in their products, ensuring safe handling and usage.

    In this initial segment of a two-part blog series, we highlight the important information you should know. Noteworthy recent developments and agencies include:

    1. Proposed Plastics Ban: The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) has proposed banning nearly 10,000 per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), commonly known as "forever chemicals," found in many everyday products like clothing, food packaging and medical devices. This initiative aims to address health concerns linked to PFAS exposure, including liver damage, immunity issues and cancer.

    2. Restriction Proposal: In February 2023, ECHA published a PFAS restriction proposal, initiating a six-month open consultation from March 22, 2023, to limit the risk to people and the environment while enhancing product and process safety.

    3. Chemicals List Update: ECHA added nine new chemicals to its Candidate List in January 2023, posing risks in coating products, flame retardants, paints and paper and pulp manufacturing. These additions prompt a closer look at ensuring safety for customers, consumers and those involved in the manufacturing process.

    4. Safer Equipment Initiative: This initiative seeks to reinforce existing EU rules limiting harmful substances in electrical and electronic equipment, extending to imports involving PFAS. Notably, in 2022 alone, U.S. companies exported nearly $350 billion in goods to the EU.

    Impact of regulations and rule changes

    Chemical manufacturers and related industries, including pharmaceuticals, paint, cosmetics and ink and paper production, will feel the impact of these regulations. Companies must prioritize ensuring the safety of acquired products, potentially necessitating changes in chemical usage and handling practices.

    The next steps for manufacturers hinge on industry specifics and the chemicals in use. Compliance efforts may involve reconsidering worker and consumer exposure, requiring investments in testing methods and data collection.

    Beyond individual companies, EU chemical regulations can have a global ripple effect, influencing regulatory developments in other countries. The global reach of regulations like REACH and CLP impacts companies worldwide that export to the EU or deal with EU-based exports.

    A broad array of industries dealing with chemicals, including manufacturers, importers, exporters, downstream users and retailers, will be affected. U.S.-based companies with EU interests must stay vigilant about evolving regulations, anticipating potential impacts on their business operations. U.S. companies will have additional reporting requirements levied by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) for PFAS.

    Stay tuned for part two of our series where we will discuss how compliance strengthens organizational operations and how technology can improve the situation.

    Interested in staying up to date on other recent environmental regulations? Check out our blog: CSRD and the Future of ESG Disclosure: Empowering European Corporations

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