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An introduction to REACH

It is important to understand how the European REACH legislation on chemicals can affect companies throughout the supply chain.

The European Regulation on the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and restriction of Chemicals (1907/2006) – commonly referred to by the acronym ‘REACH’ – was originally published in December 2006 and has superseded a number of European directives on management and the use of chemicals. The adoption of the regulation was not limited to the European Union (EU), as it was also taken up by three countries outside the EU (Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway). This larger organisation is known as the European Economic Area (EEA). Following the UK's departure from the EU at the start of 2021, the UK has enacted its own version of the regulation – UK REACH – which currently mirrors the requirements of the EU regulation.

The regulation fundamentally changed the way that chemicals were regulated in the region. Prior to the introduction of REACH, suppliers of chemicals (particularly those placed on the market before the introduction in 1981 of a more rigorous approval procedure), would be subject to decisions taken by the EU to restrict the most harmful chemicals. These decisions were based on scientific assessment of substances, where concerns had been raised by academic studies. The result was a fairly slow rate of restrictions, which did not always satisfy the demands of environmental and consumer pressure groups.

With the launch of REACH, this principle was significantly changed, effectively meaning that chemical manufacturers and importers had to demonstrate to the regulators that the substances they supplied did not pose unacceptable risks to human health or the environment.

It is important for each organisation to identify its role within the REACH process in order to determine what actions it would need to take. There are four major categories, and it is possible for any organisation to be more than one. Some larger organisations may have responsibilities under all four:

How can we help?


SATRA can help you to understand the requirements of REACH for your product or role in the industry. We can also offer training, consultancy and testing – please email for full information.