Last reviewed 14 October 2020

Chemicals companies have expressed concern over the potential added cost if data sharing is not agreed.

All business that make, sell or distributing chemicals in the UK and the EU will need to follow both UK and EU REACH rules from 1 January 2021.

UK REACH will have the same key components ― registration, evaluation, authorisation and restriction ― as the EU scheme, and it will also adopt the UN’s globally harmonised system (GHS) classification and labelling rules just like the EU does.

UK REACH will also maintain the EU REACH’s aims and principles, including:

  • the “no data, no market” principle

  • the “last resort” principle on animal testing

  • access to information for workers

  • the precautionary principle.

But there is growing uncertainty and concern over the added costs to the industry, both here and in Europe if the two sides fail to reach an agreement on data-sharing.

The Chair of the UK Government’s EU Environment Sub-Committee, Lord Teverson, has written to the Environment Secretary, George Eustice expressing MPs concerns, especially on smaller businesses during the coronavirus crisis.

“If no data-sharing agreement is reached with the EU, companies will be required to submit chemicals safety data to the UK’s new database. Often companies do not own that data… We sometimes forget that the chemical industry in the UK is largely made up of smaller companies which do not have deep pockets, particularly in time of crisis.”

The letter follows the Environment Sub-Committee hearing at which expert witnesses explained the practical challenges and high costs of submitting chemicals safety information to the UK REACH system.

MPs were told that a data-sharing agreement with the EU is crucial to protect UK consumers and the environment and that Health and Safety Executive, which has responsibility for the UK REACH regulations, would likely face difficulties recruiting the staff it needs in the short timeframe to take on its new role.

In the letter to the Environment Secretary, Lord Teverson said the chemical industry’s prioritiy is for the UK regime to remain consistent with the EU REACH: ‘New thinking is required from the Government to ensure the UK regime will regulate chemicals effectively without placing excessive burdens on industry. Ultimately, it is in the Government’s gift to resolve these issues.’

Further details of the committee’s findings are available at committees.parliament.uk.