BCF is ‘Cautiously Optimistic’ Regarding the New Government Outline for the British Chemical Regulations

Date: 14/11/2023
Categories: Associations
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The British Coatings Federation has welcomed with cautious optimism the Defra's recently published “policy direction” for the British REACH.

The newly published policy direction by Defra for the British REACH has been received with cautious optimism by the British Coatings Federation (BCF). The new proposals respond to some of the concerns expressed by the organisation itself in favour of the coatings and specialty chemicals sectors.

REACH stands for the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals and has been the main piece of legislation governing the use of chemicals across Europe since 2007. When the United Kingdom left the European Union in 2021, it copied over the regulations and had originally planned to duplicate the system, including a full database of chemicals in the United Kingdom under the Transitional Registration plans.

Through an assessment, Defra then recognised that the cost of this proposal was disproportionate and began consulting on an alternative transitional registration model (ATRm). The new statement now requires only the essential minimum hazard data transitional registration substances, except in cases where the concerns of the British regulators or global evidence suggests detailed reviews or more data is needed.

“While the devil will be in the detail, the British Coatings Federation gives an initial cautious welcome to Defra’s new proposals for UK REACH. We are grateful for the work of officials and Ministers in getting us to this point, but we now need to see the detail in the formal consultation and impact assessment documents, which we hope will be published soon. From what we can see so far, though, the new approach seems more proportionate and workable than the original and will mean the UK remains at the forefront of environmental and human safety when it comes to chemicals regulation,” has stated Tom Bowtell, the Chief Executive Officer of the British Coatings Federation. “It takes account of the work carried out elsewhere in the world by other regulatory regimes and allows UK regulators to focus their time and resources on those substances and uses where there may be most legitimate concerns. Indeed, this approach could mean regulators are able to better police concerns than under the current system. Taken together, these steps seem a sensible way to deal with the issue after Brexit.”

The more focused approach to hazard data for transitionally registered substances will be accompanied by a greater focus on collecting data on use and exposure at work, providing more information on the use of chemicals as well as on risks to manage, which will require a major contribution from the industry. The new proposal therefore appears to offer the potential for a much more workable and proportionate system, without reducing existing protections for the environment, health and human safety.

“We look forward to continuing to engage with Defra through the forthcoming formal consultation process to turn this broad direction of travel into a detailed, workable and proportionate regulation. As a trade association that represents downstream users of chemicals in a vital part of the UK economy, the BCF is well placed to assist in this process. We want to help ensure the new system is robust yet practical for businesses to comply with easily and effectively, to help secure the future of UK manufactured formulated products. It has taken more than two years to get to this point. However, the seemingly positive steps contained in today’s announcement move us closer to providing industry with the level of certainty it requires about the future of UK chemicals regulations. That certainty is essential to ensure future investment in our sector, and we hope further progress is made quickly from this point on,” has concluded Bowtell.