What is REACH Legislation?

by Andy on January 16, 2012

REACH REACH is a piece of legislation that is currently in force in the European Union. Along with RoHS and WEEE, it is one of the three main regulations that affect how electronic products are made and distributed throughout the EU. While they are not in effect around the world, anyone who wants to market their products to the EU has to deal with them, and the trend seems to be that many countries are following suit with these regulations.

While RoHS limits what electrical products can be made from, and WEEE regulates the recycling of old electronics, REACH sits in the middle by making sure consumers have access to the types and properties of chemicals in products. The goal of REACH is to have manufacturers know what chemicals are in their products and recognize any risks those chemicals may pose.

Manufacturers and importers to the EU must compile all of the information on the chemical properties of their products and register it with the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA). Along with the chemical properties, they must also have information on how to safely handle and use the products. Also, manufacturers are called upon to replace dangerous chemicals with less hazardous ones if a suitable alternative exists.

The REACH legislation also includes provisions for companies to work together to make products safer. Companies who use similar chemicals are encouraged to share information to make sure that all substances are registered properly. This is meant to lead to increased accuracy in information on chemicals, and should help smaller companies that have a harder time testing each substance in their product. By working together, companies can find potential hazards that they may have missed themselves.

Want more information on REACH legislation? The European Commission on Environment and the ECHA both have great information for the EU, and the United States Export website has some information for US companies. Make sure to check in next week for the last part in our series on environmental legislation where we will be looking at the US legislation on conflict minerals.

Read Part 1 on RoHS here.

Read Part 2 on WEEE here.