Since the REACH regulation came into force, all substances manufactured or used in quantities of more than one tonne per year must be registered with the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) in Helsinki. In principle, the rules apply to all chemical substances. The only exceptions are substances which are subject to separate legal provisions, such as radioactive substances and foodstuffs. That is why Süd-West-Chemie GmbH (SWC) has developed two new product lines in the wake of the regulation.
The REACH regulation provides for more stringent restrictions and risk assessments
The REACH regulation has three ambitious goals. On the one hand, it is intended to protect human health and the environment from risks posed by chemicals. On the other hand, the European Union wants to increase the competitiveness of the chemical industry in the EU, as well as promote alternative methods to investigate the damaging effects of substances and thereby avoid animal testing.
This applies to all chemical substances such as cleaning products, dyes and electrical appliances, and not just those used in industrial processes. Manufacturers now have to investigate the hazards posed by the substance and assess the associated risks. Furthermore, they have an obligation to replace substances which carry a high risk, or to minimise those risks as far as possible.
As a specialist manufacturer of thermosetting synthetic resins and adhesives in the industrial sector, SWC is directly affected by the REACH regulation—especially in terms of its use of the two substances formaldehyde and nonylphenol.
SWC develops low-risk alternatives
In the context of the REACH regulation, both formaldehyde and nonylphenol are classified as high-risk substances. As one of the most important organic precursors, formaldehyde is emitted, among other ways, by incomplete combustion processes. These occur, for example, in internal combustion engines in motorised vehicles, in foundries, or in the manufacture of plastic products. Furthermore, formaldehyde is used as a starting material for many chemical compounds. Therefore, its classification as a carcinogen and probable mutagen will have far-reaching implications for businesses.
The new classification means that businesses will have to make large investments in safety equipment, such as extraction systems, in order to be able to ensure adequate protection of health and the environment. This represents an enormous financial burden, particularly for small and medium-sized companies, which make up the majority of SWC’s customers.
That is why the manufacturer based in Neu-Ulm in Swabia has developed an effective solution. This means that the quantities of free formaldehyde in almost all resin systems can be decreased to below the 0.1 % threshold. Formaldehyde is thus no longer hazardous and no longer needs to be included in the classification or the safety data sheet. In the SWC product series, this new system is denoted “RF”, for “reduced formaldehyde”.
The substance nonylphenol is also used in the industrial sector, mainly as a precursor in the manufacture of polymers and adhesives. It is classified as high-risk due to its hormonal effects on fish. Now SWC can replace up to 100 % of this substance with a substitute material produced from renewable raw materials, so that we will no longer be dependent on crude oil in the future. The flagship here is Stabiliser 83208, which is mainly used in the abrasives industry.
Customers and the environment benefit
With its two new product lines, Süd-West-Chemie GmbH does not just comply with the requirements of REACH to reduce the emission and spread of dangerous chemical substances; it simultaneously offers its customers more cost-effective and low-risk alternatives.
Further information is available at: www.sued-west-chemie.de
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