UK Government issues chemical guidance for no-deal Brexit

The UK is set to leave the EU on 29 March

The UK Government has issued guidelines to businesses that use chemicals on the actions they should take now to minimise any disruption in the event of a no-deal Brexit on 29 March.

UK companies manufacturing or importing chemicals from the EU will have to register those chemicals to a new UK regulatory system, in case of a no-deal Brexit.

UK REACH (registration, evaluation, authorisation and restriction of chemicals) will replace EU REACH, said the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).

UK REACH will require businesses to “demonstrate how a chemical can be safely used with minimal risk to human health or the environment".

The chemicals sector is the UK’s second-biggest manufacturing industry and UK businesses currently hold over 12,000 registrations with REACH.

A ‘no deal’ would mean that a range of other key sectors would also be required to register on UK REACH any imported chemicals they use.  

This would include the motor manufacturing, cosmetics, construction and cleaning products industries.

“It is the job of a responsible government to ensure we are prepared for all scenarios, including no deal,” said environment minister Thérèse Coffey.

She also encouraged "not just chemicals producers but all businesses that use chemicals" to read the guidance on the HSE (Health and Safety Executive) website and take action if necessary.

In case of a no-deal Brexit, UK businesses that manufacture a chemical (currently registered to EU REACH) will need to validate their existing registration with the HSE within 60 days of the departure.

Additionally, businesses that import a chemical substance from the EU will need to set up a new registration with HSE within 180 days of the UK leaving the EU.

UK businesses that export chemicals to the EU will need to have an EU REACH registration in place once the UK leaves the EU.

In addition, more technical information will need to be submitted by businesses to HSE within two years of an EU exit. The requirements are part of the government’s commitment to maintain environmental standards after the country’s departure from the EU.

In a no deal scenario, businesses need to register on UK REACH. This requires the following actions:

•             Identify the chemical and quantity that they use;

•             Understand how to register that chemical by reading the EU Exit guidance; and

•             Prepare the information for that registration.

•             Businesses can find out more at HSE.GOV.UK/EuExitReach