UK cosmetics sector applauds gov deadline extension to prepare for tighter chemical regulations
UK cosmetics sector applauds gov’t deadline extension to prepare for tighter chemical regulations
30 Nov 2022 --- Players from the British cosmetics industry have expressed relief as their government has made the official decision to extend its deadline for businesses to register for the UK Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) policy – which mandates stricter safety screenings on chemicals – by three years.
PersonalCareInsights speaks to the UK’s Cosmetic, Toiletry and Perfumery Association (CTPA) to illustrate what this means for stakeholders along the beauty business value chain and what challenges remain, particularly for end consumers.
The REACH protocol – which was introduced post-Brexit, in January of last year – compels personal care companies to identify and manage the risks presented by their substances manufacturers commercialized in Great Britain.
UK Reach effectively requires every actor along the cosmetics supply chain to communicate information on the safe use of chemicals. This applies to all companies in the sector, regardless of size, and covers all activities of manufacturing, importing, distributing and using chemicals as raw materials or finished products.
Delayment allows for improved screenings
While applauding the extra time given to businesses for adhering to the new rule, Dr. Emma Meredith, director-general of the CTPA, tells PersonalCareInsights that delaying its enforcement would only help raise the safety standards of cosmetics rather than hinder progress.
“It is important to highlight that the extension by the longest option does not compromise safety for human health or the environment,” she stresses. “A longer deadline maximizes the opportunity for industry to produce as high-quality dossiers as possible.”
“The management options available during the timeframe of the deadlines will still allow the Health and Safety Executive [HSE – the UK agency enforcing REACH] to carry out its duties as a regulator, to ensure a high level of protection for human health and the environment,” she notes.
“In addition, the substances of higher risk have the same deadline extension of three years in both options for extension and the HSE will be able to investigate chemicals within this band as a priority, if required.”
More time for preparations
Dr. Meredith outlines the advantages, for both industry and UK regulators, for extending the UK REACH submission deadlines by three years.
Among these key points, she highlights that this extension will provide the industry more time in working with Defra and the Health and Safety Executive on an Alternative Transitional Registration model.
“A longer deadline extension will allow the new registration model to be implemented, as well as give industry enough time to understand and prepare for their new obligations,” says Dr. Meredith.
“A longer deadline is more likely to harmonize the development of the new UK REACH model with other ongoing government chemicals management initiatives, such as the UK Chemicals Strategy.”
Longer deadlines will allow industry to spread the costs over a longer time period, increasing the opportunity to invest in other areas such as research, innovation and sustainability initiatives, she adds.
“A longer time frame will allow the supply chain to adapt to changes that may happen – such as in the case of a change of supplier or formulation changes to substitute ingredients – thereby minimizing disruptions.”
Hurdles to overcome
Despite reducing costs and some administrative burden for companies, the alternative registration model currently under development still presents some challenges, concedes Dr. Merideth.
“The main challenge is around accessing and using information about chemical hazards from publicly available sources,” she stresses.
“Depending on the requirements under the new registration model, downstream users of chemicals may still be the most impacted within the supply chain.”
In Great Britain, she notes there is a much greater proportion of chemical importers and downstream users compared with manufacturers of chemicals.
“The latter are generally those actors in the supply chain which hold data on chemicals and are registrants under a REACH framework,” she notes.
“This means in practice that the Great Britain market consists mainly of those businesses that do not have direct access to data and will need to negotiate data access with lead registrants in the EU.”
Impact upon consumer choice
Dr. Meredith highlights that many UK-based downstream users become importers when bringing finished cosmetic products – as distributors of mixtures – into Great Britain from the EU or other markets.
“Under the current UK REACH framework, these companies are legally classified as ‘importers’ and therefore also as registrants (this is related to the definition of importers under UK REACH),” she explains.
“However, from a purely supply chain point of view, these companies are effectively continuing to operate as downstream users, using chemicals at the end of the supply chain to make or import finished products which are intended directly for sale to consumers.”
This shift in roles and responsibilities may force companies to make a decision between an increasing burden of responsibilities or rearranging their supply chains, she warns.
“This could lead to discontinuing the use of particular substances or products, therefore also reducing consumer choice in Great Britain.”
By Benjamin Ferrer
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