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BREXIT: Secure your chemicals supply chain

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Overview for EU and UK companies using chemicals

As a result of BREXIT, the UK officially left the EU on January 31st of this year. Until the end of this year we are in a transition period (TP). During the TP the majority of EU regulations remain in place in the UK, included the EU ‘REACH’ regulation (EC 1907/2006). After December 31st of this year EU REACH will no longer apply in the UK; UK companies will be ‘non-EU companies’.

Furthermore, there is increasing certainty that the UK government will implement a regulatory system inside the UK which is essentially a duplicate of REACH. Companies wishing to continue UK business involving chemicals from 2021 onwards will need to comply with this new ‘UK REACH’ system, and only UK established companies (legal entities) will be able to perform this. Here’s an overview for EU and UK companies using chemicals.

Risk of supply chain disruption.

UK Companies that currently manufacture in, or import chemical substances into, the UK will need to quickly comply with the new UK REACH system. The UK HSE will have a new IT system available at the start of next year, through which the necessary initial data submission can be performed. After that, within 2-6 years, a full registration, analogous to the EU registration, will be required in the UK system.

UK companies that currently export chemical substances into the other EU states, and that wish to continue that business from 2021, have no time to lose. In contrast to the UK, there are no transitional measures after 2020 for these companies. Since the UK companies will no longer be inside the EU they will not be able to fulfill the EU REACH obligations themselves directly. The EU customers will no longer be able to buy from the UK companies until this is addressed. In a situation like this, it urgently needs to be decided whether to appoint an EU-based Only Representative to represent them inside the EU post-2020, or to support their EU-based customers to be the EU importers of the products / substances.

EU companies currently exporting to the UK need to review their options to continue supply after 2021. UK companies that are currently using chemical substances that originate from other EU states are ‘downstream users’ under EU REACH. As such, they benefit from their upstream suppliers handling the EU REACH obligations. The sourcing of substances into the UK will be an ‘import’.  At least one actor in the supply chain will need to assume the obligations to ensure that the substances comply with the new UK REACH system. As an initial step in 2021, a submission will be required in the UK IT system, again followed by a full registration within 2-6 years.

Depending on the complexity and importance of the business, there are several options available to perform this. These include, among others, that the UK company assumes the obligations as Importer, or that the EU supplier (or manufacturer) appoints an Only Representative or Importer inside the UK.

Careful consideration will be required across all the available options, involving open dialogue between the various actors in the supply chain. From that, to ensure continuation of supply, a decision will need to be made by early 2021, as to by which supply chain actor and through which UK legal entity the compliance will be performed.

Given the current clarity and certainty towards how companies who are working within EU REACH will be impacted by BREXIT, and the many imminent deadlines, Apeiron-Team urges all companies doing business across the future UK/EU border to assess their product and substance supply chain and the available options for continued compliance in both the UK and the EU.

Related Apeiron Services

We are here to support any companies in all aspects associated with this, including as example; substance/supply chain mapping, compliance strategy development, and/or preparation and submissions to necessary agencies.

UK Chemicals legislation


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Posted by
Mike Crawford


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