The EU’s REACH: an environmental regulation

We’re used to dealing with red tape, but enviromental issues are going to create a mountain of green tape. Some of the legislation and regulation will be called for, some will be pointless. One regulation that SAP talked about this week at an event in Orlando really got me thinking.

First though what is this regulation?

REACH is a new European Community Regulation on chemicals and their safe use (EC 1907/2006). It deals with the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemical substances. The new law entered into force on 1 June 2007.

The aim of REACH is to improve the protection of human health and the environment through the better and earlier identification of the intrinsic properties of chemical substances. At the same time, innovative capability and competitiveness of the EU chemicals industry should be enhanced. The benefits of the REACH system will come gradually, as more and more substances are phased into REACH.

Many in industry slammed the regulation when it was first mooted, but as the father of a two year old I applaud it. We need to become a lot more careful about chemical leaching into the environment, and its great to see the EU make a stand on the issue. When male songbirds start developing female voices because of pollutants its time to thinking much harder about our impacts on the environment, and what it might mean for child development. I don’t want my boy to end up sounding like Leona Lewis.

Greentape isn’t confined to the EU however. In the US the Toxic Substance Control Act (Tosca), which has far higher fines than REACH and, for example, specific local regs in countries such as Norway.

SAP currently deals with REACH registration and notification management through a partnership with a firm called Technidata. It plans integration with its global trade services and health and safety modules. Specialist consulting firms such as ReachReady and Oval Systems are also emerging. It will be a bean feast for vendors, but no less important for that. Interestingly IBM and Oracle don’t seem to be saying much on the subject. But of course SAP is stepped in European manufacturing in a way those other firms just aren’t.

If you are in manufacturing and you’re aren’t getting reach for REACH its time to get started. Green from the top down. Well done the EU.