Brussels, Belgium – Over 400 people listened to a webinar about REACH and the impending restrictions on diisocyanate use in the EU recently.
ISOPA, Alipa and Urethanes Technology International magazine hosted the webinar. Jorg Palmersheim, ISOPA secretary general described it as ‘a resounding success’.
Isopa is the European association of diisocyanate and polyol producers. The group has been spearheading the industry’s response to the impending regulations and has been working with the regulators to ensure that they are as fair and practicable as possible, while protecting people’s safety inside and outside the factory. The group has also produced an ebook. Called How to navigate REACH – A guide to the restriction process applying to diisocyanates it aims to answer all the questions its members and key stakeholders may have about safe handling of diisocyanates and the restriction dossier itself.
Isopa has not been alone. It has led the process, through a panel of 30 sector groups. These are associations of companies in downstream application areas and also some other specialist organisations such as EuroPUR, PUEurope and the FSK.
The panel exists, Palmersheim said, to make sure that members know about the regulatory process, the development of teaching material and to make sure that the associations are all aligned when they are talking with the regulators.
The FSK, Germany’s association of foamed plastics is one such sector group. It has been part of the panel, because it ‘assumes product responsibility for its members within the panel’, said Klaus Junginger. ‘Supporting and our commitment to small- and medium-sized enterprises, is an important part of our role’, he said.
Plamersheim said that the FSK is an important part of the panel. ‘As Germany is the biggest single market in the EU for polyurethanes, it was very important to have the German national associations on the panel.
The FSK represents ‘the interests of the industry along the value chain’, Junginger explained. ‘The FSK has members from over 10 countries and they are of various sizes’, he said.
One of the panel’s biggest successes has been to bring ‘a large number of associations with undoubtedly different mindsets and views on the REACH process have come together’, said Junginger. ‘At the beginning, there was often the idea that there would be exceptions made in production and processing. This thinking has increasingly been pushed to the background and the focus is on what is workable’.
The panel has passed a number of milestones said Palmersheim. These include a joint press release on the registration of intention with the ECHA. This was in response to the German BauA environmental agency; that agency proposed a risk-based measure under the REACH regulation in October 2015. Later that month the panel sent a joint statement to BAuA on the number of EU workers exposed to diisocyanates. In 2016 the panel responded to the dossier which BAuA submitted to the ECHA. In August 2018, the panel issued a statement to the Commission about some areas of the current legal text.
Palmersheim said this cooperation along value chains and across the polyurethane industry in the EU ‘has managed to align the industry in their approach and position towards the authorities with regard to the restriction’.
Junginger agreed: the panel’s ‘strategy and cooperation is goal oriented and uniform’. He added that a steering committee to handle the strategy and effectiveness of the work has been a success’.
Part of the panel’s success has been its diversity. Junginger said: ‘There are associations that consist only of national members of a country and contribute their interests [to the group]’.
He said that such groups are closer to their companies and organisations. ‘They know their companies and partners well and are well suited to solving problems’, he added.