The REACH Regulations came into force on 1 June 2007, replacing combined European Directives and Regulations concerning the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals. A significant feature of the Regulations is the obligation on manufacturers or importers of relevant substances to register these with a Central European Chemicals Agency. Relevant products comprise chemical elements or compounds in their natural state or as manufactured (“substances”), mixtures or solutions comprising two or more substances (“preparations”) or articles containing substances or preparations (“articles”).

With certain exemptions, where substances, preparations or articles are manufactured or imported into the EU in quantities of 1 tonne per year or more, REACH will apply. To phase in registration of those products already being manufactured or supplied, the Regulations permit pre-registration. From 1 June 2008, manufacturers or suppliers seeking to benefit from the phased in deadlines can pre-register. This window of opportunity will close on 30 November 2008.

New chemical substances, namely those not prepared before the Regulations came into force, must be registered as from 1 June 2008. Failure to comply is likely to result in a “dissuasive” penalties. There are likely to include potential for imprisonment as well as fines, but official guidance is awaited.