UK Proposes to Extend UK REACH Registration Deadline and Explore Alternative Information Requirements
On December 6, 2021, the United Kingdom’s (UK) Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, George Eustice, sent a letter to the Chemical Industries Association (CIA). The letter confirms that the government is exploring a new model for transitional UK REACH registrations -- the registrations under UK REACH of substances that were registered in the European Union (EU) in accordance with the EU’s Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) regulation on or before December 31, 2020, the end of the Brexit transition period. In the same letter, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) proposed extending the first UK REACH registration deadline from 2023 to 2025. This letter signals the first steps for the UK to chart its own course for the regulation of chemical substances since the end of the Brexit transition period.
The DEFRA letter responds to a February 9, 2021, letter from 25 industry associations urging government ministers to reduce demands for complete data sets for all substances, imported or manufactured, that are placed on the market in Great Britain (GB) (exemptions excluded). Under the current rules, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and Environment Agency (EA) depend on these data to identify substances of concern to human health and the environment and to create regulatory management options. The UK lost access to these complete data sets at the end of the Brexit transition period.
The industry parties proposed a different regime, where the agencies would continue to be notified of substances on the market and could use publicly available data to prioritize evaluation for substances of concern. One key data source would be the non-confidential information from related EU REACH registration dossiers published by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA).
While reducing the information requirements would reduce compliance costs for registrants, there are concerns from some stakeholders that this would increase divergence between EU and UK requirements and increase complexity. Further, non-governmental organizations (NGO) view the reduction in information as reduction in protections of human health and the environment from harmful substances placed on the GB market.
The December 6 letter follows the introduction of the Environment Act 2021 (the Act), which confers to the Secretary of State significant new powers to amend the UK REACH legislation and adapt it for the GB market as long as the changes do not conflict with the requirements of REACH Article 1. DEFRA is engaging with stakeholders to discuss the new proposals and will initiate a public consultation in 2022.