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ECHA’s latest PR gives a misleading impression about the progress of REACH

Earlier this week ECHA issued a press release with the headline saying “All known substances of very high concern being tackled”.

This headline is very unfortunate, as it gives the impression that the hazardous chemicals in the EU are dealt with, that we can all relax and do not need to put much more effort towards this issue.

But if you pay close attention you see that there’s a little key word in that headline: ”known”. Behind that word hides the fact that we do not know enough about the chemicals that are used in the EU, and therefore it’s impossible to tackle them in a satisfactory way in regulatory processes.

ChemSec finds it concerning that ECHA fails to be clear on this issue in its press release headline, as that is no doubt the number one thing most people take away from that piece of communication.

Industry is the one to blame here, as it does not provide enough relevant information in the registration dossiers, something that hampers the whole REACH system. REACH builds upon quality data – if it’s lacking there will be problems in each and every step of the process.

But ECHA is not guilt free. It has opted for only carrots and no stick in its efforts to make industry comply and provide enough and relevant information. This clearly hasn’t worked but still ECHA hasn’t used the stick.

If ECHA would withdraw registration numbers when registrations lack information or not provide registration numbers in the first place, the situation would have been very different.

The burden of proof would have stayed with industry but instead it has shifted towards authorities.

In order to have all relevant substances of very high concern on the candidate list by 2020 industry needs to provide better data, and ECHA needs to take their responsibility as the guardian of the REACH process and force industry to do so. Otherwise industry will continue to sit back.