The EU Chemicals Policy, known as REACH (Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals) entered into force on June 1st, 2007 (EC1907/2006). It has a direct impact on every member of the plastic supply chain, including additives producers, plastics producers, plastics converters and retail businesses.

Substances of interest to the plastics industry

  • Total: 14 substances
  • Monomers: 3.
    Not subject to authorisation (intermediates)
  • Pigments: 3
    Lead chromates (Red and yellow + mixtures)
  • Flame retardants: 3
  • Phthalates: 4 (PVC plasticisers and components of PP catalysts)
  • Catalyst: 1 (HDPE cata)

Exposure Scenarios

PEST (Plastics Exposure Scenario Team) formed by the most important associations representing the plastics supply chain has produced a list of Generic Exposure Scenarios that cover most of the known plastics uses and has translated them into "REACH use descriptors”.

To access the table, click on the image below

These use descriptors should be used by the plastics producers to communicate with their suppliers to inform them of their uses. This is recommended for classified additives and facultative for the non-classified ones.

ES for registrants of substances used as additives in plastics

A web based tool is now available to the M / I of substances used as additives in plastics. It allows them to easily evaluate the safe conditions of use of their substances, both for the human health and the environmental end points.

The access to the site is limited to the members of the associations part of PEST. This means that if, as a member of PlasticsEurope, you need to register an additive and evaluate its safe conditions of use, you have the right to use the site. Just take contact with Michel Cassart to get a password key that will allow you to register on the site and use it. 

The second phase of the project is already launched. It will give the possibility to evaluate the use of classified substances (additives) in the use phase when they are added to a plastic, a compound or a master-batch. It will even be possible to assess blends of classified substances. This step will thus cover typical compounding activities of PlasticsEurope members. It will be particularly useful in case of classified compounds (due to the presence of one or more classified additives) and will allow producing the details of the ES, to be put as annex to the SDS. It is expected that this development will become available end of 2010 / beginning of 2011.

All the ES are based on the ECETOC TRA tool, Tier 1 for the workers exposure and Tier 2 for the environmental impact (including the OECD default parameters of the different plastics families covered). The latter is particularly interesting as it provides with not too conservative results, a very positive point as the tools recommended by ECHA are in general very conservative. The workers exposure scenario does not benefit from this feature and the use of a scaling tool (that will also be available on the website) will in many cases be necessary.

Contact our expert
Related information

PEST website provides all necessary information to understand the use descriptors of plastics. It is open to all plastics converters.

is the professional services body established by Cefic. The services provided by ReachCentrum are available also to non-members.

European Chemicals Agency (ECHA)
The Agency, located in Helsinki, Finland manages the registration, evaluation, authorisation and restriction processes for chemical substances to ensure consistency across the European Union. The ECHA web site provides all relevant publications regarding the implementation of REACH: guidance documents, fact sheets, etc.

European Commission / DG Environment
The REACH regulation is, and will be requiring on particular issues, political resolutions. This process can be monitored here