The SIEFs serve to exchange information and data, avoiding the duplication of studies, and to agree on classification and labelling where there is a difference between registrants, according to the ECHA.
Companies should join or form an SIEF when they are sure that the chemical they are trying to register with REACH is the same substance.
The main tool for companies to find out whether substances are ‘the same’ is the list of pre-registered substances available here on ECHA’s website, a spokesperson for the association told Cosmetics Design.
Each SIEF then elects a company as a lead registrant which will guide the sharing of existing data and identify where the knowledge gaps lie, as well as trying to come to an agreement on how the substance can be managed to control risks for humans and the environment.
Companies struggling to communicate and form SIEFs
Early this spring the majority of SIEFs were not yet formed as companies were struggling to communicate, according to executive director of ECHA Geert Dancet.
SIEFs containing members who need to register by the first REACH deadline should be formed and operational before the end of the summer, wrote Dancet in an editorial for the ECHA newsletter.
Once formed the lead registrant and other SIEF members should contact downstream users to get information on the uses of the chemical with ‘utmost urgency’.
In an attempt to speed up the process the ECHA launched an awareness campaign - ‘The clock is ticking’ - late May. As part of the campaign, a special section dedicated to SIEFs was launched on the ECHA website and information is provided in all EU languages.
Regarding the effect of the campaign, the ECHA spokesperson said: “We can’t know for sure, but the numbers of Lead Registrants [registered with ECHA] has certainly increased since it began (574 SIEFs with active Lead Registrants in June 2009 and 1190 in 13 August 2009)”.
A workshop for companies which have taken on the role of Lead Registrant will be held in Brussels on September 11 in co-operation with the European Commission. In addition, the ECHA will launch a series of webinars, a special helpdesk service and electronic discussion platform for Lead Registrants signed up with the ECHA.
“All this work is intended to lead to a single joint submission for each substance, with the minimum of additional animal testing and cost,” added the spokesperson.