UK REACH: A Plastribution Guide

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REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals) is an EU wide regulation governed by the European Chemical Agency (ECHA), where all chemicals that are manufactured or imported into the EU need to be registered. Polymers are exempt but their monomers need to be registered.

The registration is done by either the manufacturer or the importer. If the manufacturer is based in a non REACH country they can appoint an Only Representative (OR).

As most of our customers produce articles (e.g. plastic packaging), they will be familiar with the SVHC (Substances of Very High Concern) list.

With the UK leaving the EU, we will no longer be governed by the ECHA. The UK have now set up their own REACH system governed by the HSE.

The system will be very similar, but the major difference will be the changing borders will change company responsibilities under the new regulations. The same region is now covered by two regulations instead of one, so a business selling to the EU and the UK will now need to register for both whereas they would have previously only needed EU REACH.

UK REACH also contains a Downstream User Import Notification (DUIN) system but does not have a pre-registration phase like EU REACH did. Both are aimed at easing the initial transition into the regulation but the two are not the same.

DUIN is a system set up for the introduction of UK REACH.

Essentially you are notifying of chemicals that you are currently a downstream user of under EU REACH, but may become an importer of under UK REACH.

Completing a DUIN is free and the required information is relatively limited.

The deadline for completing a DUIN is October 27th 2021.

This allows you to continue to import material for 2-6 years, depending on volumes and with some limitations on hazardous chemicals, details listed in the DUIN guidance, along with relevant links below.

If you are currently purchasing material from the UK, you will still be a downstream user and your responsibilities will not change. You may want to check that all materials will remain available from your supplier.

If you are purchasing from outside the UK, you will now be an importer under UK REACH.

If you are selling/sending materials or compounds into Europe, you or your customer may now be an importer under EU REACH.

As you must be in a member state governed by REACH to be able to complete a registration, manufacturers have the option to set up an OR. The OR takes on the registration responsibilities of any importers of the chemical. This means that the importers become downstream users with reduced liabilities, though they do have obligations to notify the OR of the volumes imported.

Firstly, check with your supplier if they will be covering the UK REACH responsibilities for you. Either through an Only Representative or selling to you via a UK based entity.

It is possible that you will need to set up a UK REACH IT account and submit a DUIN for the materials that you are purchasing. Even if your supplier intends to set up an OR for the full registration, they may not be able to set up in time to cover DUIN requirements.

If there is no OR being set up for the chemicals that you import past the DUIN deadline, you will need to make a REACH registration or find another supplier either based in the UK, or with an OR in place.

As Plastribution is a UK based distributor, all our customers will remain downstream users under UK REACH and as such they will have no extra responsibilities.

We are currently completing DUINs for all materials so everything should remain available until at least October 2023. We are working with our suppliers to make sure as many materials as possible remain available past the DUIN period.

If you are selling materials or compounds into Europe, please bear in mind that you or your customer will be importing material.

Articles (anything that has been moulded or extruded etc.) will not need registration when being exported and SVHC statements will be available on request as they have been previously.

Useful Links:

HSE DUIN guidance: https://www.hse.gov.uk/REACH/duin.htm

Gov.uk Guidance:  https://www.gov.uk/guidance/how-to-comply-with-REACH-chemical-regulations

The government guidance contains a link to use the UK REACH IT service that you will need to register with to complete a DUIN, plus good information on how to set up your account.

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