For chemicals businesses
Businesses that make, sell or distribute chemicals into Great Britain need to follow the UK’s new domestic chemicals regulations, including UK REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals) from 1 January 2021. Businesses selling into the EU and into Northern Ireland will need to continue to meet the requirements of EU chemicals regulation and EU REACH.
The government has produced new guidance for businesses in relation to chemicals and trade operation within the UK from 1 January 2021.
There are administrative tasks you will need to do now, to enable continued trade between the UK and EU and to satisfy the requirements of chemicals regulations as applied in Great Britain.
If your business moves goods in or out of the UK but does not currently have an Economics Operators Registration and Identification (EORI) number, you will need to get one. Find out more information on EORI on Gov.uk.
Regulatory decision making
The Health & Safety Executive (HSE), together with the Environment Agency, will act as the regulatory ‘Agency’ for chemicals in the UK. Detailed UK REACH guidance (UK Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation & restriction of Chemicals) is available on the Health and Safety Executive website.
You can access the Comply with UK REACH IT service via Chemicals Gov.uk.
The Comply with UK REACH system is live and can be used by business to fulfil transitional provisions and create new chemicals registrations. The new system enables the UK to make decisions on regulation of chemicals that are based on the best available scientific evidence, ensuring that chemicals remain safely used and managed.
The HSE guidance covers the areas of UK REACH, classification labelling and packaging (CLP), prior informed consent (PIC) for export and import of hazardous substances, biocidal products regulation (BPR) and plant protection product (PPP) regulations and detergents. The HSE will be responsible for these chemicals regulations as implemented in Great Britain.
The UK no longer has any legal representation in regulatory decision-making on chemicals in the EU. The new UK-EU trade and cooperation agreement allows for non-confidential data sharing and dialogue between the UK and EU, but the UK will now take independent decisions on chemical restrictions and authorisations.
The Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) will be responsible for various regulations covering products containing chemicals. Please see the guidance for businesses on product safety.
The government has also established the UK National Quality Infrastructure (NQI) comprising the British Standards Institute, Office for Product Safety and Standards, National Physical Laboratory (NPL) and UKAS (UK Accreditation Scheme). This body will oversee standards setting, measurement, accreditation, conformity assessment and market surveillance.
Northern Ireland will continue to follow the rules of the EU single market. Advice can be found at ECHA.
UK Chemicals helpline
Defra, as the UK government policy lead for chemicals, has launched the UK Chemicals Helpline to support businesses. It runs Monday – Friday 9am-5pm and the number is 0330 159 1985.
What the Royal Society of Chemistry says
We expect high standards of human health and environmental protection to continue in the UK, as informed by the best science. Formal mechanisms to ensure the best scientific evidence and advice is taken into account into decision-making for chemicals policy must be in place as soon as possible in 2021. We encourage active cooperation between the UK and EU on chemicals in terms of data sharing and technical cooperation.
Our policy position in the link below highlights some things that still need to be considered if regulatory divergence from the EU on chemicals arises from 2021.
As the UK develops a new chemicals strategy as part of the 25-year Plan for the Environment, we will continue to provide thought leadership and evidence.
How the Royal Society of Chemistry can help
We are committed to supporting our members through these preparations and we will update this page as significant developments occur. Given the nature of the Brexit negotiations, your first port of call should be your employer and Government information on Brexit preparedness.
However, there may be some queries that are not answered by your employer or the government advice. In this situation, the RSC Chemists’ Community Fund may be able to help you.