The EU REACH regulation, an acronym that stands for the registration, evaluation, authorization, and restriction of chemical substances, is understandably perceived by companies to be a chemicals regulation. In fact, it has a much broader scope, says Scott Sagamang, Business Development Manager for REACH Services at TUV Rheinland of North America. "This law applies to plastics as well as articles imported into the European Union," he says. Articles is the term used in the regulation, and is euro-speak for an array of finished products including toys, furniture, and sporting goods. "It encompasses everything from a frisbee to a locomotive," says Sagamang. As such, injection molders and materials suppliers exporting to the European Economic Area (EEA), which encompasses member states of the European Union plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway, need to be keenly aware of this regulation.
Reach entered into force in June 2007, but it has a staggered registration timeline depending on the quantity of substances a company produces for the EU market. New substances, called non-phase-in substances in the regulation, must be registered with the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) before they can be placed on the markets of EEA countries. Existing, or phase-in, substances on those markets benefit from a transitional timeline. When the regulation came into force in 2007, companies producing more than 1000 t of substances per year were required to preregister. The threshold is lower for materials deemed to be hazardous.