Contrary to the general opinion, companies established in Belgium have much more extensive obligations than mere compliance with REACH – the European legislation on registration of chemical substances. Indeed, in Belgium a national register for nanomaterials will enter into force on 1st January 2016. This is of significant importance as companies will be required to inform their Committee for Protection and Prevention at Work (CPPW) of the registration of nanomaterials. The companies involved must ensure that they have the relevant mechanisms in place before the deadline of 1st January 2016.

Which companies are involved?

All companies importing, producing or distributing chemical substances and products fall within the remit of the Belgian register. However, because not all the chemical substances are considered to be nanomaterials by the Belgian legislation, is it important to know and to understand this legislation in order to determine the specific obligations of those involved in the purchase or sale of chemical substances also considered nanomaterials. Any individual or private entity that is active in R&D is also concerned, regardless of whether they sell their own substances.

Why is 1st January 2016 so important?

As of this date, the relevant companies must declare any chemical substances which, under the Belgian law, are considered nanomaterials and which they have previously produced, imported or distributed for professional purposes. From this date, the relevant companies will also need to register their materials before placing them on the market. Furthermore, as of 1st January 2017, compulsory registration will be extended to mixtures containing nanomaterials and the registration of products containing any form of nanomaterial could also become compulsory from 2018.

How to register in Belgium?

The Belgian registration requires companies to submit relevant scientific and commercial information to the National Public Health Instances. Furthermore, the registration requires a juridical justification of confidentiality in respect of any data that contains trade secrets or information which may otherwise be regarded as confidential.

Which penalties can be imposed in the absence of registration?

Penalties for failure to register include prison sentences of up to 3 years and/or fines of up to 720.00 euros.

Is the registration of nanomaterials relevant for suppliers and customers of the company?

This registration aims the complete chain of the establishment of nanomaterials on the market, but excludes sales to consumers. Each company must also develop relevant coordination and the follow-up mechanisms between its suppliers and its own professional customers, which will include a full review of any contracts currently in place.