Managing Your REACH Program: Best Practices for Remaining Compliant

Managing Your REACH Program: Best Practices for Remaining Compliant

Described as the most complex piece of legislation in the history of the European Union (EU), the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) Regulation (EC 1907/2006) has grown exponentially in scope and impact over the last decade. In-scope companies must develop processes that are resilient to change, or risk falling behind their requirements. There are five best practices a company can easily begin implementing to position themselves to remain compliant.

1. Providing Supplier Training & Support

A strong supplier onboarding process sets expectations for a relationship between a company and its supplier. As part of this process, a company should collect the contact information for the individual or individuals responsible for answering inquiries about material lists and compliance, as communication is already occurring when payment information is being processed during onboarding.

Collecting supplier contact information ahead of time means that when compliance data is required, the correct contacts are already on-hand. Meanwhile, once a line of communication is established, a company can use it to foster good will by providing suppliers with education, training and native language support on the regulations their articles are in scope of. This added support translates into a higher response rate and greater supply chain transparency.

2. Maintaining Supply Chain Transparency

A strong relationship with suppliers leads to supply chain transparency. By building out a dedicated line of communication with suppliers, companies can better understand the challenges their suppliers face and support them in mitigating those challenges. In turn, this dialogue encourages better responsiveness because suppliers are less burdened with requests they don’t understand.

The transparency of the supply chain supports a company’s compliance efforts. It can also be an asset as the company plans for the future. A positive relationship with a supplier allows a company to more effectively communicate why they might be asked to replace a hazardous material before it appears on any REACH lists.

3. Following Changes in Compliance

It is important that companies develop processes to keep up to date on reporting requirements, as well as the substances that are on the Candidate List of Substances of Very High Concern (SVHCs), the Authorisation List (Annex XIV) and the Restricted Substances List (Annex XVII). It’s also important for companies to follow the evolution of the REACH Regulation, as a more comprehensive list of chemicals that companies will have to report against will emerge in 2020 and the years beyond. Companies must dedicate resources to perform the research necessary to stay on top of any changes in their requirements.

For each list, companies have action items they must follow to remain compliant. When a substance is added to the Candidate List of SVHCs, its presence must be communicated to customers within six months. For substances added to the Authorisation List, compliance teams have 18 months to submit their application for permission to continue using a particular substance, or else they have 36 months after its addition to the Authorisation List to find an acceptable replacement. Finally, the timeline in which Restricted Substances List items are no longer allowed in products differs depending on the substance, so it is imperative that companies proactively research the status of the substances in their products.

Discovering late that a substance is being placed on these lists can lead to last-minute scrambling for data, which could result in a disruption to business processes if the application is not made in time, and the company’s engineers must find a substitution.

4. Proactive Substitution of SVHCs

The best way to mitigate the risks arising from the restriction of substances is to replace hazardous and potentially hazardous substances with alternatives. To do this, companies can proactively inform their suppliers which substances they must phase out to maintain business, or research suppliers that already provide the part or parts required without using any Candidate List SVHCs.

Replacing substances is more involved than swapping one substance for another. Due to the frequency that substances are added to the Candidate List of SVHCs, companies need to consider what substances are at risk of being identified as hazardous in the near future. Performing this research is not a small task, and the more complex supply chains become, the more difficult it can be. Governing bodies will not approve “regrettable substitutions,” which are substitutions that will have to be replaced in the near future. In order to avoid this, companies must be prepared to scale their research and compliance programs as their needs grow.

Learn more about REACH and what changes will be coming in 2020 in our guide, REACH in 2020 & Beyond.

5. Scalable Processes for Expanding Requirements

When building compliance programs to comply with REACH, it is important to plan for the future. A compliance program should start by providing a means to monitor changes to the regulation. The sooner a company is made aware of changes in a substance’s position on any of the REACH lists, the more time they have to apply for an authorization or find a replacement.

A scalable process should also support suppliers no matter how complex and extensive their requirements are, including making resources available to educate them as the needs of the company change. At the same time, the process should provide a way for suppliers to quickly and easily respond to requests without having to navigate an email inbox full of requests for information.

As the need to report on more substances grows, creating an automatic cadence for outreach and follow-up with suppliers can help alleviate the resources required to maintain compliance. If those resources become strained, companies run the risk of non-compliance.

Consequences of Non-Compliance

If a company is unable to meet all its REACH requirements and lapses into non-compliance, it faces a number of disruptions that could irreparably harm its business in the short and long term.

One common consequence of non-compliance is supply interruption. Once a substance is identified as harmful under REACH, companies that do not respond quickly enough may incur fines, experience business disruption or lose market access.

There are a lot of moving parts when a company is establishing an effective REACH program, but if it performs due diligence, the parts will more easily work together.

By using approaches that rely on automation, agility and accuracy, a company can be proactive in maintaining compliance.

To learn more about how Assent can help you manage your REACH program more effectively, contact us at