The impact of REACH regulations in the surface treatment industry

In European (EU) industry, the production, sale, and use of chemical substances (including metals) are strictly governed by the REACH regulations. What are these REACH regulations ? How do these regulations affect the surface treatment industry? What is Electropoli doing to comply with these regulations and to anticipate any future changes in them? Explanations!

What are these REACH regulations?

The REACH regulations came into effect in 2007 in order to catalogue, assess, and monitor all chemical substances imported into the EU and used in the industrial sector. They therefore apply to all substances of natural, organic origin as well as to metals. The regulations set out to ensure the following:

  • - the chemical substances concerned are used in a way that minimizes risks for people and the environment
    - there is perfect transparency with regard to the risks involved in using these substances
    they are used in the best possible safety conditions
    - they improve the competitiveness of the EU chemical industry

Since REACH regulations were introduced, they have identified, assessed, and monitored over 20,000 chemical substances.

REACH Regulations: how do they affect surface coatings?

REACH regulations have been a driving force of huge progress in the surface treatment industry, whose metals, products, and components used in creating surface coatings are chemical substances. Certain of these substances or metals are therefore subject to special precautions during use, while others are outright too dangerous for use.
These REACH regulations were a big factor in our developing pollution-reduced surface coatings for aerospace. This was the context for our development of alkaline zinc nickel plating to replace the traditional use of cadmium—now known to be a health hazard—in the aerospace, automotive, and weaponry sectors.
And Cadmium isn’t the only substance to be prohibited by the REACH regulations. Another example is the suspected carcinogen chromium(VI), which we eliminated more than fifteen years ago by switching exclusively to chromium(III) for passivation of our zinc coatings.

A watchdog for anticipating REACH regulations

In order to anticipate any broadening of the REACH regulations and also to guarantee surface coatings that are hazard-free for people and the environment, Electropoli has invested heavily in its regulations watchdog. This enables us to anticipate future changes in the regulations and to look for alternatives to the chemical substances that will be outlawed by REACH.