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Brexit and Its Effect on Chemical Labels

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The UK chemical and pharmaceutical industry is the second largest in the UK, with only the food, beverages and tobacco processing sector above them, making the industry an integral part of UK manufacturing. In fact, the chemical and pharmaceutical industry adds £18 billion of value to the UK economy every year, from a total annual turnover of £50 billion.

The European Chemical Agency (ECHA) decides the EU’s chemical compliance and regulatory processes. Its duties include enacting policies that promote sustainable management of chemicals that, in turn, create a mutual benefit for both the citizens and the environment. The REACH regulation is one of the well-thought-out policies of the ECHA, enforced across all EU member states. By following strict procedures of registration, evaluation, restriction and communication, the guidelines laid down help in the early identification of intrinsic properties of chemical substances.

The UK has already begun to work on its own set of rules for product regulation and compliance. Termed as UK REACH, which is being developed by the UK’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE), is expected to be similar to the norms of the EU Reach. The Brexit chemical regulations are expected to remain similar to the EU REACH requirements norms.

Finalizing the Brexit chemical regulations is a crucial goal to complete during this transition period. However, it is also necessary to formulate new UK-centred policies to replace ECHA’s other product compliance guidelines. These include the Classification, Labelling and Packaging (CLP), Biocidal Product Regulations (BPR) and Safety Data Sheets (SDS) guidelines.

Irrespective of a ‘deal’ or ‘no-deal’ scenario, the UK must establish an independent body for regulation of chemicals that enter its borders. As a first move, the UK has adopted the UN globally harmonised system (GHS), which is similar to the EU’s CLP Regulation. While most things will remain the same, some procedural differences can be expected, which includes: The UK’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE) will perform as the regulating body for the country. In this regard, UK companies will have to classify and label products according to the new regulations and Instead of the UK-based exporters, the responsibility of working under the ECHA’s C&L inventory now falls on the EU-based importers.

It is still uncertain if the UK post-Brexit will apply to be an EEA EFTA state. However, the voices in the industry need to speak out and have their concerns heard. Most significantly, the changed Brexit chemical regulations will impact heavily on time and additional administrative costs. In the case of a “deal” Brexit or a “no-deal” Brexit, manufacturers must plan for the worst and hope for the best. For now, companies to work with the worst-case scenario in mind until guidelines surrounding the UK REACH become final. Companies should look to increase their chances with the possible compliances by mitigating supply chain risks, performing the adequate supply chain audits and adapt to when and where requirements change.

For more information about chemical label regulations, please feel free to contact our parent company Labelservice.