Man-made chemicals are ubiquitous in modern daily life; from packaging to clothes, the great potential for harm to individuals and the environment requires extensive regulation to ensure that this risk is minimised. As part of the EU, the UK has helped to produce the most sophisticated regulation system in the world: REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation, and restriction of Chemicals).
As the UK plans to leave the EU, the future of British chemicals regulations has become unclear. Trying to re-create a new UK chemicals regulatory system at some point in the future will cost several tens of millions of pounds and still may not provide the same level of protection that the UK currently has under REACH.
Failure to provide protection of the standard provided by REACH opens up a number of risks to the economy, public health, the environment and animal welfare, including the possibility of the UK being open to the use or sale of chemicals considered too dangerous in the EU.
In March 2018, just as a key piece of Brexit legislation (the EU Withdrawal Act) was being debated in the House of Lords, the Society co-ordinated the efforts of a number of its Licensed Bodies in preparing a briefing on REACH for parliamentarians. The briefing, which is available to read below, was led by CIWM, endorsed by the Environmental Policy Forum and also supported by IChemE.