Korean Legislature Adopts K-REACH

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June 6, 2013 - Sookie Hong and Kirsten Wallerstedt

Alert Summary

K-REACH, which becomes effective 1 January 2015, introduces significant changes to South Korea’s chemicals management framework, including an annual reporting requirement on quantities and uses of all manufactured and imported chemicals.

3E Analysis

The South Korean National Assembly adopted the Act on Registration and Evaluation of Chemical Substances, dubbed K-REACH, on 30 April 2013. The final version of the legislation stipulates that manufacturers, importers and distributors are required to report annually on quantities and uses of all manufactured and imported chemicals.

Other requirements include:

  • All new chemicals and existing chemicals will be subject to registration if manufactured or imported at or above one ton per year.
  • During the first year after the Act goes into effect, risk assessments will be required for all chemicals manufactured or imported at or above 100 tons per year. Annual production/import thresholds triggering the risk assessment requirement will be gradually reduced in the second, third, fourth and fifth years to 70, 50, 20, and 10 tons, respectively.
  • All articles containing dangerous substances will be required to issue notification of hazardous chemical ingredients, as well as adhere to safety labeling and other hazard communication requirements (e.g., safety data sheet (SDS) provision).

Unlike the version of the Act that was actually adopted, the Ministry of Environment’s (MoE) initial 2011 proposal limited the reporting duty to manufacturers and importers, and did not include the obligation to report on uses. Also, while earlier drafts obligated so-called business chemical users to report their uses annually, this requirement was removed from the final version of the Act.

Business Impact 

Industry can expect the K-REACH legislation to be costly. While the legislation isn’t effective until 2015, businesses may need to begin thinking about the following now:

  • Only Representative – Foreign companies will need to appoint a competent representative to report and register the chemicals.
  • Risk assessment – Beginning 1 January 2015, risk assessments will be required for substances imported or manufactured at 100 tons or more per year, and the tonnage band for risk assessment will be lowered over the following five years. Companies will need to prepare required testing data to submit to the MoE.
  • Risk communication (SDS, etc) – It will be mandatory for a supplier to provide chemical properties, use, exposure scenarios, and safe use guidelines in the SDS, which means updating the SDS will be necessary. In addition, downstream users need to provide certain information including the usage, exposure information, and the quantity of use or sale to a supplier or manufacturer, if requested.

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