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Next steps for UK chemical industry and priorities for UK REACH

February 2021


Price: £95 PLUS VAT
Format: DOWNLOADABLE PDF


***Full-scale policy conference taking place online***
This conference will be a timely early opportunity to assess the future for chemical industry in the UK - with the UK agreeing a post-Brexit trade deal with the EU and the Government establishing an independent chemicals regulatory framework, UK REACH.


The discussion is bringing together stakeholders with key policy officials who are due to attend from Defra; DIT; the FSA; HMRC; the Department for Infrastructure, NI; The Scottish Government; and the Welsh Government.


The agenda:


  • Priorities for implementing the UK REACH system and minimising transition hurdles
  • Latest thinking on adapting and developing effective domestic regulation going ahead
  • What is needed for UK REACH and chemical regulation to support sector growth - market and trade barriers, regulatory complexities, operational costs, and the scope for international alignment
  • Next steps for UK chemicals in the global context - promoting the value of UK industry and remaining competitive
  • Trends in international chemical standards and opportunities for UK leadership in rules development
  • ‘Industry priorities for the non-REACH chemicals regimes’
  • The scope of innovation and new business models in the UK chemicals sector - low-carbon pathways, commercialising products and technology, and developing domestic supply chains
  • Progress on developing the UK Chemicals Strategy and next steps for policy tools and support for growing the industry

Establishing the UK REACH framework


  • priorities - safeguarding the UK chemicals sector following the transition from the EU, minimising disruption, and creating a regulatory system that provides short and long-term stability
  • barriers - looking at minimising trade and operational disruption, clear guidance for businesses, simplicity and efficiency in registration procedures, and reducing delays affecting commerce
  • minimising regulatory complexities - what can be taken from EU rules and best practice, and putting in place foundations for regulatory agility to cope with change and the need to adapt
  • operational costs and the scope for future EU alignment - latest thinking on compensation and subsidy schemes, keeping administration fees low, and EU collaboration in the long-term

Next steps for growing the UK chemicals sector


  • forward strategy - next steps for fostering growth in the UK chemicals sector, and what is needed to scale up activity
  • key aims - new business opportunities, protecting environmental health, and how UK stakeholders and policymakers might drive the development of international rules and standards
  • growth and productivity - identifying business opportunities, designing effective strategies, building domestic manufacturing capacity, enhancing supply chains, and further enabling regional productivity as part of the post-COVID and levelling up economic agenda
  • UK competitiveness - increasing business and product innovation, and developing and spreading best practice for entering new chemical markets and forging new export relationships
  • UK influence and outreach - leveraging industry views on effective regulatory reform and design, establishing the UK’s presence in international rules setting, and expanding global partnerships

A chemicals sector for the future


  • modernising the chemicals business case - preparing stakeholders for future challenges, targets and commitments, with innovation and environmental and decarbonisation goals key policy themes
  • innovation - discussing key technological opportunities for the sector, and how challenges around preparing stakeholders for environmental commitments can be overcome
  • commercialisation - priorities for new products, growing the R&D base, increasing academic, public and private cooperation, and strategies for cost reduction in technology and manufacturing
  • net-zero - next steps for developing low-carbon pathways for UK chemicals, identifying opportunities for on-site decarbonisation, working with policymakers and international partners to improve hazardous handling and disposal, and best practice for integrating net-zero by 2050 across business plans

A scan of relevant developments:


  • Britain’s biggest manufacturing exporter relieved, but still facing the prospect of huge costs - the Chemical Industries Association’s take on UK-EU Trade Agreement, expressing relief over the increased stability the deal brings and the avoidance of tariffs but citing continued uncertainty over future regulatory framework and cooperation
  • UK REACH - the regulatory framework:
    • replacing domestic jurisdiction of EU REACH
    • establishing new rules for compliance across those making, selling or distributing chemicals
  • key elements of the new framework:
    • continuity - the intention to maintain EU principles on data compliance, rules on animal testing, and access to information for workers
    • market access - new registration systems for businesses on both sides in order to access either market, including for business operation and the trading of physical substances
    • registration - creation of a separate system for registering hazardous and potentially harmful chemicals in the UK
    • downstream users - HSE has announced new notification system for those importing chemicals from the EU
    • deadlines - announcement that a delay of two, four and six years will be applied to businesses required to submit data packages for registration
  • a new chemicals strategy - reports of a new holistic plan under development, expected to outline priorities for businesses and protecting environmental health
  • Chemicals - strategy for sustainability (toxic-free EU environment) - being developed by the EU, aiming to strengthen rules around the use and manufacture of chemicals, enhance sustainability, and reduce barriers to trade
  • decarbonisation:
    • Industrial Energy Transformation Fund - with £315m earmarked for funding through to 2024, for decarbonisation solutions at high energy-use sites like chemical manufacturing
    • Energy White Paper - £1bn invested to facilitate the deployment of CCUS in 4 industrial clusters by 2030, including £17m for the UK’s first CCUS plant at Tata Chemicals in Cheshire
  • Transforming Foundation Industries challenge - with £149m aiming to revolutionise foundation industries like chemicals, and support innovation across businesses, technologies and supply chains
  • the National Infrastructure Strategy:
    • reiterating commitments for industrial energy decarbonisation projects for energy-intensive sectors like chemicals
    • announcing a UK Infrastructure Bank - to support regional economic and industrial expansion, and enhance opportunities for regionally-based sectors like chemicals as part of the wider levelling up agenda 

Policy officials attending:


Our forums are known for attracting strong interest from policymakers and stakeholders. Places have been reserved by officials from Defra; the Department for International Trade; the Food Standards Agency; HMRC; DAERA, NI; the Department for Infrastructure, NI; Northern Ireland Assembly; The Scottish Government; and the Welsh Government. Also due to attend are representatives from Air Products; BASF; Bibra toxicology advice & consulting; British Aerosol Manufacturers' Association; C-Capture; Chemical Industries Association; Cosmetic, Toiletry & Perfumery Association (CTPA); Evides Industriewater; Exponent International; Julian Little Communications; L'Oreal; Lubrizol; McBride; Omex Agrifluids; Omex Environmental; Osborne Clarke; Regenerative Food and Agriculture CIC; Royal Society of Chemistry; Scottish Leather Group Operations; The White Sea & Baltic Company; TSG Consulting; Unilever; WSP UK and XCellR8.


This is a full-scale conference taking place online***


  • full, four-hour programme including comfort breaks - you’ll also get a full recording and transcript to refer back to
  • information-rich discussion involving key policymakers and stakeholders
  • conference materials provided in advance, including speaker biographies
  • speakers presenting via webcam, accompanied by slides if they wish, using the Cisco WebEx professional online conference platform (easy for delegates - we’ll provide full details)
  • opportunities for live delegate questions and comments with all speakers
  • a recording of the addresses, all slides cleared by speakers, and further materials, is made available to all delegates afterwards as a permanent record of the proceedings
  • delegates are able to add their own written comments and articles following the conference, to be distributed to all attendees and more widely
  • networking too - there will be opportunities for delegates to e-meet and interact - we’ll tell you how!

Full information and guidance on how to take part will be sent to delegates before the conference



This pack includes

  • Dropbox video recording of the conference
  • PDF transcript of the discussion, including all speaker remarks and Q&A
  • PDFs of speakers' slide material (subject to permission)
  • PDFs of the delegate pack, including speaker biographies and attendee list
  • PDFs of delegate articles