North American companies may miss REACH deadline

REACH became law on June 1, 2007, to streamline and improve the former legislative framework on chemicals in the EU. But North American companies cite time and expenses as reasons for their slow buy-into the legislation.
By Plant Engineering Staff March 17, 2008

Despite a November 30 deadline, many business leaders appear lax about taking steps to comply with the Registration, Evaluation and Authorization of Chemicals legislation, or REACH, according to a survey released March 11 by PricewaterhouseCoopers. Titled “Waking up to REACH,” the report indicates that two-thirds of North American organizations have limited knowledge of the operational impacts the European Union legislation could have on their business. There is also concern that North American companies will miss important REACH deadlines, consequently suffering disruptions in the business.
REACH became law on June 1, 2007, to streamline and improve the former legislative framework on chemicals in the EU. REACH places greater responsibility on the industry to manage the risks that chemicals may pose to health and the environment. It applies to all chemicals %%MDASSML%% those used in industrial processes as well as in products such as cleansers, paints and appliances %%MDASSML%% meaning upstream and downstream in the chemicals supply chain.
“REACH ensures that the industry maintains some accountability in improving the protection of human health and the environment from the risks that can be posed by chemicals,” said Saverio Fato, global leader of PricewaterhouseCoopers Chemicals practice. “That being said, U.S. companies that are facing these new regulations do not appear to be on track for compliance.”
The clock begins ticking on June 1 for companies to begin REACH pre-registration, which provides manufacturers and exporters of chemicals to Europe six months to complete the process. In anticipation of the deadline, PricewaterhouseCoopers surveyed 241 senior executives across six industries in 29 countries to gauge readiness and reaction to REACH. The survey showed that two in five companies appear to have limited awareness of the regulation, and one in four executives feels Europe’s newest rules on chemicals and their safe use will have no impact on their business.
The survey found that not only is REACH awareness low among North American companies, but most survey respondents had not discussed the European law with customers or suppliers to determine the impact on their supply chains. Among industries, chemical companies lead the way on awareness followed by pharmaceuticals; industrial manufacturing; forest, paper and packaging; retail and consumer; and automotive.
Most organizations said they have not yet completed risk assessments on how REACH will impact their businesses. Only 10 percent had completed a detailed assessment; 30 percent completed some risk assessment and 31 percent had no risk assessment. North American and Asia-Pacific companies are the worst offenders in terms of not carrying out the necessary level of risk assessment to measure the impact of the REACH legislation.
For more information and to access the full report, visit: www.pwc.com/chemicals