I was delighted to have spoken alongside colleagues from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy at the British Adhesives and Sealant Association event on March 28. I highlighted the actions that businesses need to take in order to comply with the UK regulatory framework for chemicals in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

We are aware of a number of industries that use chemicals, including the adhesives and sealants industry, and appreciate the importance of ensuring continuity in a no-deal EU exit scenario. It is our top priority to deliver a negotiated deal, but it is the job of a responsible government to ensure we are prepared for all scenarios, including no deal, and to support industry in planning for this.

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, UK businesses that make or import 1 Mt or more of a chemical substance per year will have their registrations carried over into a new chemical system, called UK REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals). UK REACH will replace EU REACH in the UK and will operate under the same principles as EU REACH, requiring businesses to demonstrate that they can use chemicals safely and manage any risks to human health or the environment.

Companies in the adhesives and sealants industry that import chemicals from an EU-based manufacturer may need to consider taking on registration obligations in order to continue importing that product. In some cases, manufacturers and importers under EU REACH may have held registrations on which your business has relied. This may mean that your business may not have had to register with the current EU system. Examples of products containing chemicals that are common in the adhesives and sealants industry include toluene and xylene, mehylene diphenyl isocyanate (MDI) and toluene diisocyanate (TDI), and ammonium hydroxide.

We want businesses to have time to prepare for these changes, so if the UK leaves the EU without a deal:

  • UK businesses that currently have EU REACH registrations will need to validate their existing registration with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) within 120 days of the UK leaving the EU
  • UK businesses that import a chemical substance from the EU that intend to take on registration obligations will need to notify 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
  • UK businesses that notify HSE under these arrangements will need to submit the required technical information to support their registration within two years of the UK leaving the EU

Chemicals covered by these previous provisions will retain legal market access. Your businesses, like those within the UK, will be able to continue to manufacture, import and use the chemicals if you take steps to validate your registrations.

We have provided guidance to businesses that use chemicals on the actions they should take now to minimize any disruption in the event of a no-deal Brexit. On March 25, we have issued further guidance to businesses, which include advice on how to register the chemicals they are using and the quantities being used.

We urge businesses to read this guidance and to contact REACH-IT@defra.gov.uk if you need more support.