REACH (Registration, Evaluation & Authorisation of Chemicals)
In 2011 you will likely be hearing quite a bit about the REACH regulations. Below is a summary of these new European regulations and how it may impact the electronics business.
REACH is the EU countries' broad chemicals legislation. It sets up a single regulatory framework for gathering and assessing information on properties and risks linked to the application of chemicals and, if required, potentially restricting chemicals of most concern. hey apply directly to manufacturers and users of chemicals who must register by specific target dates from 2011 to 2018 if their activities are covered by the regulations. The purpose of the regulations is to tackle the problem of the huge amount of harmful and persistent chemicals in use around the world. Specifically, REACH entails registering nearly 30,000 chemicals over 11 years, and evaluating and authorizing or phasing out the most harmful ones in favor of viable safer alternatives.
The regulations will be expensive for companies to comply with. While not directly affecting many electronic product designs or electronic product manufacturers, they are still something to be aware of as it is expected that in due course a significant number of the more unpleasant chemicals in use today will be discontinued by their manufacturers due to the cost to comply with the regulations. As yet the impact on the electronics industry is unknown, but many of the chemicals used in electronics are likely to come under increasing scrutiny.
Why should I be concerned about the REACH Regulation?
If you are a company that ships product or chemical substances into the EU or you have other operations in the EU, then you need to be aware of the REACH Regulations and determine if/how you are affected by them. You should seek your own legal/environmental advice on how REACH affects your operations.
Also be aware that the scope of the regulations is actually very wide and they cover many products you may not expect them to. For instance a marker pen, a bar of soap and a battery are all products that either release a chemical by intention or it can be foreseen that they could release a chemical (e.g. a battery leaking). Manufacturers of products that involve the intentional or forseeable release of chemicals need to comply with REACH. To not comply is a criminal offence.
IPC offers a pretty extensive guidebook for only $25.00
If you want your head to spin and find out how far-reaching this legislation is look here.