Effect of company size on potential for REACH compliance and selection of safer chemicals


REACH represents a global paradigm shift in chemical regulation, and it has introduced a new, complex regulatory process to which chemical producers and users throughout supply chains must adapt. This paper presents results of survey research to illustrate whether and how the business members of a large Scandinavian trade organization understand and comply with REACH. It also explores how these businesses obtain information about the chemicals they use in their products, and whether they feel that the information they have is sufficient to meet their needs. In addition, the paper describes how business size affects these issues. The survey results show that, at the time of this study, many small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and a number of larger firms were unaware of REACH. Survey results consistently showed that the size of a company is an important factor in both understanding of and compliance with REACH, with respondents from large firms having a better grasp of REACH and its implications than smaller companies. An effective implementation of REACH will require, at the most basic level, more attention to educating EU companies, especially smaller ones, on how and why REACH applies to them. Survey respondents who were aware of REACH and its applicability to their firms also reported the types of support they needed in order to better understand and comply with the regulation, with nearly 40% of all respondents expressing a need for help with data systems or tools to manage REACH requirements and communicate REACH requirements to suppliers and customers. Many companies reported needing more information from their suppliers on chemical composition and related health impacts of materials and products. Ensuring that this information is readily available throughout supply chains is essential to reducing the negative impacts of chemicals and products on human health and the environment.

Caroline Scruggs
Leonard Ortolano
Michael Wilson
Publication date: 
January 10, 2015
Publication type: 
Journal Article
Scruggs, C. E., Ortolano, L., Wilson, M. P., & Schwarzman, M. R. (2015). Effect of company size on potential for REACH compliance and selection of safer chemicals. Environmental Science & Policy, 45, 79-91.