European REACH regulation on chemicals can provide benefits to companies that make or import bio-based substances. There are registration exemptions that may be specifically applicable to bio-based manufacturers. This means that if certain conditions are met, the REACH registration obligations will be less of a burden to some of the bio-based manufacturers. REACH also offers all bio-based manufacturers opportunities to develop and market safe and sustainable bio-based alternatives to substances which are currently of very high concern. These are the findings from the RIVM National Institute for Public Health and the Environment report: ‘REACHing out to the bio-based economy’.
REACH legislation aims to regulate safe use of chemicals in the EU, thus ensuring a high level of protection for human health and the environment. Companies are required to register chemicals to ECHA if they reach the one tonne a year threshold.
In a bio-based economy, all kinds of biomass (such as algae and crop residues), are used as renewable resource for production of energy and chemicals. This biomass serves as alternative for fossil-based resources and is on the rise because of the depletion of oil reserves, climate change and dependency on politically unstable regions.
In spite of all these opportunities, many bio-based companies see REACH as an obstacle because of complex and relatively unknown legislation. In addition, the legislation is not yet optimally designed to encourage substitution of substances of very high concern by safe and sustainable alternatives.
On the Dutch website www.chemischestoffengoedgeregeld.nl RIVM National Institute for Public Health and the Environment provides information for companies about REACH regulation. RIVM analysed the questions received by the Dutch REACH helpdesk about bio-based substances. RIVM also investigated EU REACH legislation on chemicals to see how it relates to the bio-based chemical industry.