One of the beautiful things about the many disciplines of science is that they rarely stand still for long. It means we’re always learning new things and making amazing discoveries every day.
Unfortunately for those of us who deal with the chemical supply chain, this means we have to stay on top of a tangled web of complex legislation that is continually being updated in every country around the world.
Keeping abreast of it all, while keeping one eye on potential future changes that we need to account for, is a full-time job for any business. It’s a lot to ask of any SME – but we’re here to help. At ACI Group, we specialise in matching chemical suppliers with new customers and supporting SMEs through any legislative challenges.
Here’s how ACI Group can help you navigate an ever-changing regulatory landscape.
One of the biggest examples of a seismic shift in chemical legislation (and legislation covering everything else, for that matter) was Brexit. In the UK chemical sector, this meant that the old EU REACH laws became obsolete from 1 January 2021. From this date, new UK REACH legislation took effect, covering all chemicals moving from the EU into the UK.
Many of these regulations replicated prior EU laws, and many of their fundamental principles were retained, such as ‘one substance, one registration’. However, depending on where a business sits in the supply chain, its operations could be impacted quite significantly. For example, prior downstream users may find they are now categorised as importers, and, as such, must now register chemical substances under UK REACH where no such obligation existed before.
To help smooth out this potentially messy transition, relevant existing EU registrations are being temporarily recognised under UK REACH – a process known as ‘grandfathering’. The deadlines for when these transitional registrations cease to apply vary depending on the tonnage of substances imported per year, and the nature of those substances.
The earliest deadline to be aware of is 27 October 2026 – this is when chemical suppliers that produce or import at least 1000 tonnes per year of carcinogenic, mutagenic, or toxic for reproduction (CMR) chemicals must register. This deadline also applies to suppliers who produce or import at least 100 tonnes of chemicals classed as very toxic to aquatic organisms.
27 October 2028 is the next deadline. This covers candidate list substances (as of 27 October 2026) that are manufactured or imported in quantities of over 100 tonnes per year. The final deadline is 27 October 2030. By this date, all suppliers will be expected to register any chemical that they produce or import in quantities of at least 1 tonne per year under the UK REACH system.
As if that wasn’t enough to deal with, it’s worth noting that these are revised deadlines. They have been pushed back once, and it’s unclear whether they will move again in future. Even though these deadlines are years into the future, it’s still a hefty administrative burden for a busy SME to deal with.
A constantly changing landscape
If this was the only thing that chemical suppliers had to deal with, it would be tricky enough. However, there are many other issues on the horizon bringing legislative change to the industry. The EU’s proposed ban on PFAS, for example, will have a knock-on effect on many chemical substances. This will, in turn, affect the price and availability of alternative materials.
Legislative shifts like this have taken place every few years, particularly since the Montreal Protocol of the late 80s, which banned a number of ozone-depleting chemicals. Since then, this list of chemicals has only expanded through revisions and new treaties such as the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Climate Agreement.
Yearly COP conferences bring the world’s governments together to develop firmer action on climate change. Ultimately, this is in service of an important goal – the health of our planet – but it does mean the global legislative landscape is constantly shifting in favour of tighter regulations.
This means that chemical SMEs don’t just have to overcome these challenges, they have to continually strive to decarbonise their supply chains wherever possible.
At ACI Group, we have over 30 years of experience in guiding chemical suppliers through this ever-changing landscape. We specialise in helping new suppliers who are entering the UK market for the first time and help established UK businesses refine and decarbonise their supply chains to ensure they are never caught out by new regulations.
In 2008, we made a commitment to the EU’s REACH regulations to ensure a continued supply of products that are imported into the UK. We remain just as committed to the new UK REACH system, easing the administrative burden and going the extra mile to optimise SME supply chains. And we take this approach to every new challenge that affects our customers, anywhere in the world.
No matter what problems your chemical supply chain faces, and no matter where you sit in that chain, our elite distribution network has the solution.
Get in touch to learn how we can support your business today.