From the Times Online:

Companies that use or manufacture industrial chemicals could face billions of pounds in compliance costs after one of the most complex regulatory regimes ever established in Europe began operating yesterday.

The culmination of a decade-long attempt to overhaul the European Union’s chemical policy, the newly-created European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), based in Helsinki, has begun the task of scrutinising more than 30,000 chemicals in commercial use across the continent.

The agency is tasked with enforcing strict and wide-ranging regulations introduced last year that require companies to identify and quantify the substances they use and register them with a central database. The use of unregistered chemicals will become illegal.

However, lawyers have warned that the costs of complying with the new laws could cripple many smaller and specialist manufacturers.

Under the new rules, companies will be required to collect detailed information and pay for extensive testing if no information is available. According to the Commission’s own estimates, the cost of complying could rise to €5.2 billion over the next 15 years, with some industry estimates putting the figure considerably higher.

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