By Keith Nuthall, Plastics & Rubber Weekly
Brussels -- An attempt by an international group of polymer exporters and importers to avoid having to register under the European Union's (EU) Reach chemical control system the monomers used to make their products appears to have failed.
The ruling by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) confirms the need for importers and EU manufacturers of polymers to register "reacted monomers which are integrated in polymers."
Judges rejected a key argument of the group that monomers effectively ceased to exist when they became part of a stable polymer, and so it was a waste of time and money to register these inputs.
The ECJ said: "The obligation to register monomer substances is designed to protect human health and the environment since those substances have inherent characteristics liable to have an adverse effect on them."
The judgement will be important in clarifying Reach rules relating to monomers and polymers, which are currently exempted from its controls because there are so many it is currently impractical to register them.
The companies involved are France's SPCM, which manufactures water-soluble polymers for wastewater treatment; Germany's CH Erbslöh, a distributor and wholesaler of specialty and industrial chemicals, including preparations and polymers; Britain's Lake Chemicals and Minerals, which imports chemicals, including polymers and preparations; and the USA's Hercules, which supplies water- and organo-soluble polymer-based products.
The court noted that registering monomer inputs was important and practical because they are "less numerous than polymers" and the rule meant information was not only available about the make-up of a polymer, but of unreacted monomer residues.