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Paint makers happy to be over first reach hurdle.

THE FIRST major compliance deadline for the European Union's (EU) chemical control system REACH has passed, and paint manufacturers, importers and suppliers are breathing a sigh of relief.

"Overall, I think it has been quite challenging for both industries and ECHA [the European Chemicals Agency based in Helsinki, Finland], but I think we are both relieved to have the first deadline past, and I think it was quite successful on both sides," said Laurence Hoffstadt (NOTE: NAME IS SPELLED CORRECTLY), a scientific officer with ECHA, which governs and administers Europe's chemical registration programme.

Nearly 3,400 different substances were submitted to ECHA by the November 30 deadline, Hoffstadt said, amounting to about 38,000 registrations due to the fact that more than one company manufactures or imports the same substance. However, it is unclear how many of these relate to paints and coatings. "We're just working with the chemical names right now--we don't know what industries they will be used in," Hoffstadt said. She added in the future, ECHA hopes to devise some sort of tool that will allow companies to search and sort REACH dossiers by their uses. The lack of such a system has left many industries in the dark, including the paint and coatings sector.

"One limitation of the REACH regulation is that there was no obligation on the part of a manufacturer or importer to advise his customer chain of his intentions to register by the 2010 deadlines," said a REACH consultant for CEPE, the European organisation representing paint, coatings and inks manufacturers in the region, who wished not to be named. "Further, the information publicly provided by ECHA on the status of substance registrations does not enable a downstream user to establish if the manufacturer or importer at the head of his supply chain has registered the substance in question," he said. Paint manufacturers are generally considered downstream users in the REACH process, which means they are not manufacturing the individual ingredients and therefore are not responsible for registering them, stressed the CEPE consultant. He said communicating up and down the supply chain was one of the largest challenges.

"As a generalisation, in the run-up to the first registration date, getting the uses relevant to manufacture and to application communicated up the supply chain to the manufacturers and importers of substances used in the manufacture of coatings and inks was an important issue," he said. "This was not as straightforward a job as you might think. Very few raw materials used in manufacture [of paint] are single substances bought directly from manufacturers or importers. Most raw materials are mixtures, produced by downstream users. As you'll appreciate, each of the components in the mixtures we buy can be substances or other mixtures that have their own individual supply chains. What we had to do was start the process of getting the information communicated up the supply chains--over which we have no direct influence--to the ultimate manufacturers and importers, to whom this stage of the REACH regulation directly applied."

He said CEPE's role was largely to facilitate communication between suppliers who were registering the chemicals and buyers who were using them.

"We wanted to ensure that our uses, and those of our customers, were included in dossiers and that the measures identified from risk assessments, to control risks were proportionate and in-line with those already in place in the coatings and inks sector," he said. The spokesperson said that since European paint producers have struggled to find information on whether or not their suppliers plan to register their products, paint manufacturers may be left scrambling in the next few months, as ECHA sorts out which companies have registered and which products must go off the market.

Any substance required to be, but not registered by November 30 will suddenly be off the market--"no data, no market," the legislation says--leaving paint manufacturers scrambling to find new suppliers, quickly reformulating their products, or halting the manufacture of a product.

Three sets of substances (based on tonnage band produced or imported by a company, and specific chemical properties) had been required to be registered by November 30: those used in quantities of more than 1,000 tonnes per year by any company; that are carcinogenic, mutagenic, or toxic to reproduction and produced or imported in quantities of more than one tonne per year; or that are harmful for the environment and produced or imported in quantities of more than 100 tonnes per year.

The next deadline is May 31, 2013 for substances manufactured or imported in quantities of 100 to 1,000 tonnes per year. The final deadline falls on May 31, 2018 for substances manufactured and imported in quantities between 1 and 100 tonnes per year.

ECHA was expecting between 4,500 and 5,000 substances to be registered by the November deadline, but that number fell short by about 1,000. Hoffstadt said it is probably because of the recession that companies decided it was not worth the administrative and financial burden to register a product for market.

"We knew that some pre-registrations would never materialise in any sort of real registration. With the economic situation worldwide, we knew some companies have changed strategies to reduce registration or delay registration," she said. Hoffstadt said she does not believe REACH has been a huge factor in turning away foreign paint companies who want to tap the European market.

"The process is exactly the same if they are exporting to the EU [European Union], because they'll have a representative on EU grounds, and then the regulation applies in the same way whether they are manufacturers, importers, or representatives," she explained. "If they decided to change business strategies, it may have been because of REACH, but we are not aware of any specific impacts. Actually, you can see in our statistics for registrations from importers that 20% of all dossiers were submitted by representatives." BASF, based in Ludwigshafen, Germany, a global chemical supplier which serves the global paint industry, submitted 600 dossiers for substances by the November 30 deadline, and by 2018 will have registered a startling 4,000--although it was unable to say how many of these are used in paints and coatings.

BASF spokesperson Ursula von Stetten (NOTE: NAME IS SPELLED CORRECTLY) said meeting the deadline was necessary, but difficult.

"As planned, BASF has submitted all required registrations in time. However, the efforts should not be underestimated: 250 experts have been working hard to achieve this goal within the tight deadline," she said, adding by 2018 it will have spent between Euro 500 and 550 million to comply with the legislation. She said BASF is concerned about the small and medium-sized enterprises in Europe which, unlike its multinational model, "usually do not have specialised product safety departments like large multinational companies do." Despite costs and inconveniences, assured von Stetten, BASF fully supports the REACH programme. "REACH is an important and necessary reform of European chemicals law. The aim of REACH is to increase the knowledge about the properties of chemical substances to enhance the protection of human health and the environment. Thereby the responsibility for product safety is placed on European industry. A further goal is to increase the industry's competitiveness. BASF supports these goals with no reservations," she said.
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Author:Jackson, Emma
Publication:International News Services.com
Date:Dec 1, 2010
Words:1212
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