Taiwan: Legislators Revise Chemicals Law

On December 21, 2018, the Parliament of Taiwan (in Chinese only) agreed to changes to the Toxic Chemicals and Concerned Substances Control Act (TCCSCA). The changes deal with handling chemicals that involved health and safety risks. A total of 75 articles went into effect.

According to the Toxic and Chemical Substance Bureau, the responsible department of the Taiwan Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the revised law introduces a new era in the regulation of toxic chemicals in Taiwan. Companies must deal with the following changes:

  • The law has been expanded to cover “substances of concern” that might not be directly toxic but that present health and safety risks.
  • A new chapter covers the prevention of accidents and responses to emergencies.
  • A National Chemical Management Board has been created by the prime minister, Tsai Ing-Wen, to coordinate the exchange of information on chemical regulations between individual ministries.
  • A fund has been set up to hold registration fees and fines that the EPA collects from companies. The primary task of the fund is to finance disaster recovery.
  • In a serious case, the period for reporting to fire departments and other local authorities about issues with the storage and use of dangerous chemicals has been reduced from 1 hour to 30 minutes.
  • Chemicals may no longer be sold without positive identification, including online sales.
  • Whistle-blowers should enjoy better protection and greater rewards. The profit from illegal activities should be confiscated more energetically in the future.

TCCSCA regulates the registration of new and old chemicals. Chemical Watch cites Wu Yu-chin, a representative of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), who states the revision will improve collaboration between governments and accelerate regulatory processes. The setup of the National Chemical Management Board will assist here.

Up to now, dealing with chemicals was regulated by at least 17 laws administered by 13 ministries of the central government and local agencies. Ms. Wu particularly emphasized the importance of measures to prevent chemical accidents. In fact, the fire disaster that occurred at the end of April at the Chin Poon industrial factory, a large manufacturer of PVC, was a major driver of the revision. Seven employees and fire-fighters were killed in the accident, and many more fire-fighters were seriously injured by the acids and alkalis stored at the facility.

Do you operate in the Taiwanese market? If so, please contact us at any time at reach@kft.de.

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England’s New Chemicals Strategy

The British Ministry for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has developped a new chemicals strategy for England. The ministry has summarized the central points of the approach in the 146-page report: “Our Waste, Our Resources: A Strategy for England”. The core of the strategy involves a more-sustainable approach to dealing with chemicals and how to remove obstacles to product recycling. The goals thereby align with the document that United Kingdom published in January: “A Green Future: Our 25 Year Plan to Improve the Environment”.

In the forward, secretary of state Michael Gove writes that withdrawal from the EU on March 29 “is an opportunity to refresh and renew our environmental policy and show domestic and international leadership”.

The authors state that some 80% of the environmental damage caused by waste can be avoided by more-careful product design and more-thoughtful selection of materials and chemicals.

About 140,000 industrial chemicals are in circulation today, and many of them hinder an effective circular economy. That’s why measures need to be taken that can help identify and trace chemicals in the supply chain better.

For example, DEFRA seeks to support the goals of the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM), a framework agreed to in 2006 on a global chemicals strategy that promoted sustainable management of chemicals. The core of the agreement has a special focus on finding solutions for avoiding the use of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in products. Furthermore, say the authors, it is important to identify SVHCs. DEFRA seeks to support all those involved in this work.

It will also support implementation of the Waste Framework Directive. For example, DEFRA will soon publish guidelines on the ideal way to deal with hazardous waste and the best overall environmental option (BOEO) for the companies involved (see Chapter 3.2.6.).

In an article in Chemical Watch, Michael Warhurst, executive director of the British non-profit CHEM Trust, called for following all EU decisions on REACH and the related regulations to maintain the best-possible safety standards. He also expressly welcomed the idea of manufacturers assuming more responsibility for dealing with questionable chemicals, such as brominated flame retardants, in furniture and building materials.

If you have any questions about trading with England, please contact us at reach@kft.de.

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Survey: Product Vendors Missing Information on SVHCs

Not even 50% of companies feel that they have good information about the presence of SVHC in their products. That’s the result of an online survey taken as part of the pan-European AskREACH project between June and September 2018. 174 product vendors in 12 EU countries were surveyed, including 67 from France, 50 from Germany, 15 from Sweden, and 12 from Czechia. 60% of the companies that participated in the survey are small and midsize companies with fewer than 250 employees. That number includes companies in the textile, clothing, shoe, accessory, electronic, and household items sectors.

So few companies feel well-informed about the presence of SVHCs because more than 40% of them do not have an IT solution that collects and, if needed, stores data on SVHCs. Yet exactly such a system is required by Article 33, Section 2 of REACH. The article requires companies to respond to consumers within 45 days after they request information about a specific product. The requirement to supply information applies when the concentration of a critical substance is greater than 0.1% by mass.

Almost half of the companies surveyed had already received requests for information from consumers. The French companies stated that they receive an average of 80 such requests each month. Nonetheless, most companies cannot fulfill their legal obligations in this regard because of missing information.

That’s exactly the point of the five-year AskREACH project that started in September 2017. It is coordinated by the German Environment agency (UBA) and involves 20 partner organizations from 13 countries, including governmental agencies, research institutes, and NGOs. The project wants to enable companies to inform consumers about the presence of possible SVHCs when they ask – and do so seamlessly along the entire supply chain.

The scope of the project will include two campaigns to raise awareness among consumers and product vendors across the EU. According to the UBA, the campaigns should begin at the start of this year and cover:

  • A reply form that companies can use to respond to consumer requests efficiently according to their obligations under REACH.
  • The future ability to upload SVHC information into the European database (under development) and update it if necessary.
  • A mechanism to remind companies to update their data when the REACH candidate list is expanded.
  • Direct access to product information for consumers to provide relief for the customer service departments of the companies involved.
  • The ability for companies to request statistics on database queries anonymously and to view consumer requests.
  • An IT tool to simplify the supply of information within the supply chain.

You can find more information in the AskREACH overview of the UBA (only in German) or at the AskREACH Web site (only in English).

We are familiar with the laws surrounding the use of SVHC. Please contact us at reach@kft.de.

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South Korea Modifies the Chemical Controls Act (CCA)

The South Korean Ministry of Environment (MoE) has published Implementation Rules for the Chemical Controls Act (CCA: Only in Korean). The CCA regulates the monitoring and handling of hazardous goods, how to avoid chemical accidents, and how to register serious incidents.

The changed procedures include:

  • Confidentiality applications for chemical examinations
  • Sanctioning of specialized agencies that create environmental reports or off-site impact assessments
  • Determination of the implementation of risk management plans

In the future, companies that want the results of chemical studies to remain confidential must request such handling.

Sanctions will apply if monitoring determines that the facilities, equipment, or personal of specialized agencies that create environmental reports or off-site impact assessments are inadequate. Repeated violations by the same agency will result in suspensions of up to six months.

The schedule for inspections carried out by the National Institute of Chemical Safety (NICS) has also been changed. It should inspect the risk management and accident-avoidance plans in agencies that deal with hazardous chemicals. For the first time, inspections should occur two years after receipt of a notice of suitability. The agency will then undergo reinspection after four years.

The modification took effect on November 29, 2018.

Along with our partners we help companies operating in the South Korean market. We would be pleased to provide more information. Contact us at reach@kft.de.

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EU Project: Significant Quality Issues with Extended Safety Data Sheets

As part of a European project, REACH-EN-FORCE 5, inspectors found significant quality issues when examining extended safety data sheets (eSDS) in 2017. They wanted to determine if information is transmitted correctly along the supply chain. In that context, they also examined how well downstream users implement the required risk management measures and develop their own safety assessments.

The goal of the inspection is to protect employees who must deal with hazardous substances at their workplace. In total, they inspected documents from 898 companies in 29 EU and European Economic Area (EEA) countries. The ECHA has published a press release on the project.

The inspectors uncovered 296 violations as part of their examinations. In most of the deficient cases, the companies had failed to translate the content of the eSDS into the language of the member states in which the substance was marketed. In their closing report, the authors also warn about poor-quality information and issues like missing updates on the harmonized classification of substances in the eSDS (see Chapter 1.2: Main Results and Conclusions in the closing report of the REACH-EN-FORCE 5 project). They also found missing or incomplete exposure scenarios, inadequately specified risk management measures, incorrectly applied exposure models, and questionable exposure estimates.

According to the authors, these issues affect the supply chain negatively because not only the information, but also the deficiencies and erroneous specifications are transmitted. That situation makes the use of such information questionable.

Overall, official agencies acted in 665 cases. Most of the actions involved verbal advice and written advice. Only 4% of the cases resulted in fines.

The authors appealed to companies to update registration dossiers, SDS, and extended SDS on a regular basis and, if needed, suggest risk management measures in the SDS. In turn, downstream users should work for better communication in the supply chain. Official agencies must also do their part to contribute to better information and, for example, explain the legal requirements to companies better within the context of national campaigns. The sponsors of the REACH-EN-FORCE 5 project provide additional recommendations in Chapter 3.2 of the closing report.

The creation of almost every country-specific version of safety data sheets has been one of our core competencies for many years. If you have any questions, please contact us at sds@kft.de.

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ECHA Opens Public Consultation on REACH Annex IV for Four Phthalates

Recommendations on amending the Authorization List of REACH (Annex XIV) can be made until March 12, 2019. The amendment covers the endocrine-disrupting effectiveness of the following four phthalates:

  • Bis(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP)
  • Dibutyl phthalate (DBP)
  • Benzyl butyl phthalate (BBP)
  • Diisobutyl phthalate (DIBP)

According to the new entries, some uses of these chemicals will require authorization. Those most immediately affected include users who add the chemicals into mixtures – in a concentration of 0.1%–0.3%. In addition, the modification means that the longstanding exception for the use of DEHP in materials that come into contact with food or medicine would no longer apply.

The chemicals are listed as SVHCs because of their reprotoxic properties and have been on the candidate list for some time. BBP, DBP, and DEHP have been listed in Annex XIV since 2011. DIBP has been listed since 2012. After this inclusion in Annex XIV, the endocrine properties were identified. As a result, the Candidate List 2014 and 2017 were updated. In the next step, the exempted uses have been updated.

Do you want to be sure you’re on the safe side when handling phthalates? Whether you work with dangerous good, cosmetics, or other product, we ‘re here to support you. Contact us at reach@kft.de.

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Chemicals Regulations: USMCA Free Trade Agreement Supports a Risk-Based Approach

At the G20 Summit, held from November 30 to December 1 in Buenos Aires, the United States, Mexico, and Canada agreed to the USMCA Free Trade Agreement. After approval by each national legislature, the USMCA will replace the NAFTA agreement, which has been in place since 1994. USMCA affects almost 500 million people and covers an area with an economy of almost €20 billion.

The agreement also contains a sectoral annex for chemicals. It covers the regulation of chemicals and mixtures according to a risk-based approach. The goal is now to align the risk assessment and management methods used in each country. The next step will be ratification by each individual country, after which the agreement will take effect.

The American Chemistry Council (ACC) supports the annex, but the Democrats have already complained about the lax labor and environmental regulations.

Simultaneously with the USMCA, the three countries have also adopted a new Agreement on Environmental Cooperation (ECA). One element of the agreement is a passage on the orderly disposal of chemicals and waste.

We are thoroughly familiar with import regulations and restrictions in the countries of the USMCA zone. Please contact us at sds@kft.de.

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