The authorisation process
The final phase of REACH is Authorisation. When a chemical meets the criteria for Substances of Very High Concern as laid down in REACH, it can be included on the Authorisation List. This means that after a certain sunset date the chemical will no longer be allowed to use, unless authorisation is given for a specific use.
The producer or importer of a substance applies to ECHA for an authorisation for continued usage of the substance, not later than 18 months before the sunset date. Authorisation for a specific use can be given if the benefits of continued use outweighs the risks, or if the potential risks are considered to be limited or “adequately controlled”.
Authorisation is a long, time-consuming and costly process, since it includes a comprehensive investigation and requires thorough documentation of the chemical’s hazards and risks to health and the environment. In addition, there are no guarantees that an authorisation will be awarded – even after a company has invested huge amounts of resources and time to defend its use. Competitors and other third parties will be able to challenge any attempt to get a permit by presenting a solution that involves less dangerous substances. The EU is obligated by REACH to consider available information about alternatives when making judgements about granting authorisation.