London - The European Commission is nearing the completion of its review into whether or not polymer materials should be included within the scope of the REACH chemical safety regulations.
With a decision due from the EC’s DG Environment unit at the start of next year, rubber materials suppliers are emphasising the case for continued exemption – while waiting anxiously for the verdict.
The European Commission had previously accepted industry arguments that polymers should be exempt due to their low hazard, notes Jim McGraw, head of the International Institute of Synthetic Rubber Producers (IISRP).
“The Commission previously agreed to exempt polymers but reserved the right to revisit this issue at a later date,” said McGraw. “This matter is now under debate.
“We believe the use of classification and labelling regulation combined with risk management and formal communication via material safety data sheets eliminates any concern for polymers.”
Likewise, Lanxess AG spokesman Udo Erbstoesser said current provisions of monomer registration together with the correct use of the CLP regulation for polymers and other sector-specific regulations are sufficient to safeguard manufacturers, downstream users, consumers and the environment.
Given the complexity and cost of REACH, Erbstoesser said Lanxess hopes that “the EU authorities will evaluate very carefully any further tightening of the requirements for polymers and will not put additional burdens on industry.”
There was, however, no indication of which way the EC will decide from Christel Musset, director of registration at the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), based in Helsinki.
The process, she emphasised, is being handled by DG Environment with ECHA’s role limited to providing information and technical expertise.
The review encompasses what is going on elsewhere in the world and so “is far from being concluded,” said Musset.