What is REACH?

REACH has been on everyone’s tongue in the surface finishing industry for the last decade. But what is REACH, specifically, and what does it mean for the industry? Let us explain.

What it is

REACH is a regulation passed by the European Union on December 18, 2006. REACH is an acronym for Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation, and Restriction of Chemicals. It requires that companies manufacturing or importing chemicals or chemical substances into EU member nations to register the chemical substances with the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA). The ECHA must also be notified if substances of very high concern (SVHC) are present in manufactured or imported products, if the SVHC makes up a certain proportion of the finished product. REACH is the strictest and most thorough legislation in place regarding chemical substances and their effects on the environment and human health.

What it means

Chromium trioxide, otherwise known as hexavalent chromium, is listed as a substance of very high concern requiring authorization because it is a known carcinogen and mutagen. Dichromium tris (chromate) and “Acids generated from chromium trioxide and the oligomers” are also listed as SVHCs for their carcinogenic properties. Trivalent chrome is now being substituted for hexavalent, as trivalent chrome is not considered a carcinogen.

With REACH in full effect, there is demand for products that are created with environmentally benign technologies, like trivalent chrome and PVD. Countries outside of the EU have implemented REACH compliant regulations, and many are working toward compliance with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS). Even in non-EU nations, hexavalent chrome is on its way out, especially with US-based automotive OEMs replacing hexavalent with trivalent chrome finishes.

ECF offers environmentally friendly finishing processes PVD and trivalent chrome plating to meet your finishing needs as regulations change.