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REACH and CLP have improved protection – but more needs to be done

ECHA/NR/21/16

Europe’s workers, consumers and the environment are better protected from harmful chemicals thanks to the EU’s chemicals laws, REACH and CLP. Despite progress, changes are needed to ensure they work more effectively to protect European citizens and ecosystems.

Helsinki, 1 June 2021 – ECHA’s third report on the operations of REACH and CLP illustrates the impacts that the legislation has had on people’s health, environment, internal market, competitiveness and innovation, as well as the promotion of alternatives to animal testing.

REACH and CLP have improved the protection of health and the environment. Harmful chemicals are now identified much more quickly compared to the past, and significant action has been taken to regulate them, reducing risks for workers, consumers and the environment.

With ECHA’s chemicals database a prime source of information, the legislation has improved transparency on substances, their hazards and uses. This allows authorities, companies, workers and consumers in the EU and beyond to make better informed decisions on chemical safety. Efforts to increase the predictability of upcoming regulatory actions has encouraged greater market trust and has helped companies to better plan their operations and invest early on in finding safer alternatives.

However, synergies between REACH, CLP and other legislation such as worker protection legislation, have often failed to materialise. This creates a lack of clarity on how substances are dealt with across different pieces of legislation. Much more still needs to be done to make the regulations work more effectively and to make progress towards the 'one substance, one assessment’ ambition.

“Although we know a lot more today about chemicals in the EU, further improvements are needed so we can meet the protection goals set in the legislation. We continue to see significant discrepancies in safety data submitted by companies in their registrations compared to the information we receive during consultations once authorities consider risk management activities on a chemical. This gap must close,” says Bjorn Hansen, ECHA’s Executive Director.

With this report, ECHA provides facts to support further policy developments and to identify areas where the functioning of REACH and CLP can be improved. The report is ECHA’s contribution to the European Commission as they start with the third review of REACH and CLP in 2022.


Background

REACH covers the registration, evaluation, authorisation and restriction of chemicals in the EU. It aims to improve the protection of human health and the environment from the risks that chemicals can pose, while enhancing the competitiveness of the EU chemicals industry. It also promotes alternative methods for assessing the hazards of substances to reduce testing on animals.

The Classification, Labelling and Packaging (CLP) Regulation aims to ensure a high level of protection of health and the environment, as well as the free movement of substances, mixtures and articles. It requires manufacturers, importers or downstream users of substances or mixtures to classify, label and package their hazardous chemicals appropriately before placing them on the market.


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