December 2020

SPC Rubber commits further investment in Wales plant

SPC Rubber, has increased investment in its successful Wales-based plant with the installation of a new mixing facility, opening an additional line.

The new 35 litre mixer is the latest investment to the dedicated colour factory in the Rhondda Valley, South Wales. The ultraclean factory was opened by SPC in 2017 to focus exclusively on colour compounds, complementing the company’s technical rubber output from plants located near Bristol, UK, and Barcelona, Spain.

The Wales site has its own technical development laboratory with both analytical and mechanical testing machines. The factory accommodates a range of manufacturing orders, supplying batches from just 5kg to 140kg at a time. The site also has inline filtering of compounds.

The new 35 litre mixer is ideal for production of high quality, superior performance, coloured elastomer compounds. The mixer chamber has full access for cleaning and the mixer has complete cycle and temperature control, offering excellent reproducibility. It is therefore well suited to the mixing of low volume compounds for critical markets

The expansion represents the latest chapter in a story of growth for the successful manufacturer. Paul Hallas SPC MD commented: “We continue to expand the production capability within the UK, despite the challenging conditions in 2020. Overall the market demand for rubber compounds is strong and the range of applications continuing to rise. Our new mixer is a fantastic addition to the production facility at Maerdy, bridging the gap between our smaller mixing lines and our large one.

He added: “Despite a challenging environment for everyone this year, I believe UK manufacturing companies must continue to invest. Following Brexit we will inevitably be faced with new trading conditions next year and UK manufacturers must strive to continue to be market leaders in their industries.”

During 2020 SPC developed several new coloured aerospace (AMS) and food industry (FDA) elastomer compounds. The 35 litre mixer will provide intermediate batch volume, giving opportunity for cost-effective production level trials of new grades, as well as the on-going supply of compounds against technically demanding standards.

As demand increases, the larger SPC Maerdy K5 140 litre intermeshing rotor offers a perfect option for scaled-up production. It is envisaged these and the 35 litre mixer batch sizes will be of interest to customers in the aerospace, food and beverage, pharmaceutical and oil and gas sectors.

September 2020

UK REACH: SPC leads way with compliance and customer support

At the beginning of September the UK Government announced their plans for an independent chemicals’ regulatory framework, the so-called UK REACH. Here, Business Development Technologist at SPC, Jon Cutler, explains what UK REACH is and how SPC is proactive about complying with the legislation and supporting customers to do so.

As the Business Development Technologist at SPC, part of my role has been to make sure SPC only uses chemicals that comply with EU REACH legislation. This means that everything we produce – and everything we supply to our customers – is fully compliant. Now that the Government has revealed its vision for UK REACH, we will continue with our proactive approach by ensuring all chemicals purchased in the future comply with both EU REACH and UK REACH.

In their announcement of UK REACH, the UK Government listed the process and timescales of conversion from EU to UK REACH regulations. I have outlined these in the table (see right). In the meantime, we are very happy to discuss with customers any concerns related to the forthcoming UK REACH legislation and all of the ways we can support customers during the transition process.

Administered by the HSE, UK REACH will go live on the 1st January 2021. From then on, UK chemical manufacturers, importers and distributors will be required to comply with laws relating to registration of chemicals.

Deadlines for full submission of registrations are staggered for 2, 4 or 6 years. Starting from 28th October 2021, chemicals manufactured or imported at high tonnage, or with more hazardous properties, must be registered first.

EU REACH registrations held by UK companies can be ‘grandfathered’ directly into UK REACH. This means that UK companies holding an EU REACH (chemicals) registration may submit their EU REACH registration dossier data for UK REACH registration without further scrutiny. However, basic information for ‘grandfathered’ registrations is still required and needs to be submitted to the HSE by 30th April 2021, this is the date whereby registrants should provide notice of intent for the later 2, 4 or 6 years data submission.

UK companies importing chemicals but not holding the EU REACH registration will need to ensure a UK REACH registration in the future but can continue to import chemicals by completing a Downstream User Import Notification (DUIN) by 27th October 2021.

Deadlines for the subsequent submission of dossiers for each chemical is shown in the table.

The HSE on-line service ‘Comply with UK REACH’ will go live on 1st January 2021, when more detail is expected on the registration process.

 

August 2020

SPC supports customers with chemicals compliance through Brexit and beyond

As a Business Development Technologist at the leading UK-based international rubber compounder SPC, Jon Cutler is part of the team that has re-asserted the company’s ongoing commitment to the highest standards of health, safety and the environment in its use of chemicals. Despite media speculation over the use of chemicals in the UK post-Brexit, SPC’s proactive adherence to the EU’s REACH rules will not change. In this article, Jon explains SPC’s position and the work of the compliance team.

 

As the Brexit transition period draws closer to the final end date of December 31, 2020, there has been an increase in media reports concerning the UK’s approach to chemicals use. On one side are reports, such as the one recently issued by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), that stated that legislation and support provided by the ECHA was key in achieving substitution and replacement of harmful chemicals. On the other side are reports, often driven by concern from environmental groups, that the UK will become ‘a dumping ground’ for harmful chemicals after Brexit.

Currently, the use of harmful chemicals across the European Union is governed by legislation called REACH, an acronym for the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and restriction of Chemicals. The government’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has asserted the UK’s commitment to REACH for the duration of the Brexit transition period, but there has been no official statement on what rules will apply post-Brexit. The expectation is that the UK Government will align with REACH post-Brexit but, as the elastomer industry is one that uses a broad range of chemicals, we at SPC are monitoring changes closely.

Regardless of what happens from January 1, 2021 SPC will continue to work within the REACH guidelines and protocols after Brexit. Minimising the use of harmful chemicals and substituting them with effective alternatives is central to our chemicals policy.

Our technical and commercial teams have for some time been working closely with suppliers and customers to substitute or replace chemicals identified as harmful, through REACH and other legislation or information. Substitutes are identified, technically evaluated and recommendations provided towards future formulation strategies. In the small number of cases where direct substitutes may not exist, our highly skilled technical teams are proactive about suggesting and evaluating alternative technologies.

As an international business working with a global customer-base, our focus on minimising the use of hazardous chemicals extends beyond Europe and REACH legislation. Chemical compliance is becoming increasingly global, as more countries are writing and adopting their own legislation. Industry bodies and larger firms are also producing their own preferred and banned chemicals lists, often in anticipation of future legislation.

At SPC, we are proactive in all areas of chemicals compliance and environmental protection. We work to stay at the forefront of knowledge. Our internal chemicals compliance team meets regularly. At these meetings, new chemicals information, legislation changes and response strategies towards different harmful chemicals are discussed and assessed. Using these strategies, we are working to make a safer, secure, greener world, and will continue to do so well beyond December 31.