Why REACH?

Equal treatment of existing and new substances

REACH is to abolish the weaknesses of the old chemicals legislation, in particular the unjustified unequal treatment of existing and new substances, which was associated with an insufficient knowledge with regard to the properties of the existing substances. While in the old system new substances (put into circulation after September 1981) had to be extensively evaluated with regard to their risk for environment and health, existing substances (put into circulation prior to September 1981) could be continued to be used without being evaluated. Existing substances were to be evaluated by and by in a time-consuming and expensive system. This system resulted in resorting to the use of insufficiently evaluated existing substances in order to avoid the extensive registration of new substances.

Eventually, about 3000 registered and evaluated new substances faced 100 000 mostly unevaluated existing substances. The evaluation system of existing substances turned out to be impracticable and the registration duty of new substances prior to being put into circulation proved detrimental to innovations.

REACH now has a standardised system for existing and new substances.

Standardisation of the chemicals legislation

REACH serves the standardisation of the historically grown, fragmented chemicals legislation. Various regulations regarding the prohibition of production and use or the restriction of the distribution of certain chemicals as well as the provisions of the safety data sheet are integrated in the REACH regulation.

The old Safety Data Sheet Regulation 91/155/EEC was thus repealed and replaced by the REACH regulations. On 1 June 2008, the Regulation EEC No. 793/93 (evaluation and control of the risks of existing substances) will be repealed. The notification procedure for new substances according to Directive 67/548/EEC ends on 1 June 2008. The adjustments with regard to REACH are regulated by Directive 121/2006/EC. Transitional regulations apply to both areas until 1 June 2008.

More appropriate allocation of responsibilities

REACH also provides for a more appropriate allocation of responsibilities. While up to now national authorities processed existing substances according to evaluation programmes, the companies themselves are now responsible for the evaluation of the chemicals. The role of the German and European authorities is mainly restricted to the control and administration of the submitted data.

Better communication in the supply chain

REACH stipulates several communication duties within the supply chain and thus increases the actors' knowledge of the properties of the substances in their respective application.

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