The REACH Regulations established a new system for the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) in the European Union when implemented on June 1, 2007. With phased implementation over an 11-year period, REACH covers chemicals, and substance mixtures, and articles that contain substances that are manufactured or imported into the EU in certain minimum quantities.

Statistics on the pre-registration phase give a clear indication that REACH's reach has been longer than expected: The European Chemical Agency (ECHA) anticipated that approximately 30,000 chemical substances would be pre-registered, but in the end closer to 150,000 substances were pre-registered.

Nick Elliott's article, "The Next Steps," published in a recent edition of Hazardous Cargo Bulletin, discusses this new EU chemical regime, what companies need to do next, and some of the pitfalls to be avoided. The first registration deadline, applicable to high-volume and high-risk chemical substances, is only 18 months away – November 30, 2010. As Elliott explains, potential registrants have no time to waste in order to ensure compliance with the REACH registration obligations. REACH potentially impacts not only the EU chemical industry but also any entity, such as those operating in the life sciences industry, that manufactures in or imports substances/products into the EU.