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.