Chemical Watch | News Item


Turkey’s new REACH-like law, KKDIK, which enters into force on 23 December, will create new opportunities and obstacles in equal measure. Alignment with REACH, which is considered the gold standard for chemical legislation, will stimulate Turkish exports, not just to the EU – its main trading partner – but also to other regions such as Asia, where Turkish products will benefit from an image boost. 

As a neighbouring state outside the bloc, Turkey also aims to put a tighter lid on unwanted chemicals. It imports most of its raw materials, reformulating them for domestic use and exports; hence there is plenty of scope for illegal chemicals to creep in from Europe and elsewhere, including its war-ridden eastern neighbours.

Yet an ambitious and complex legislation like REACH will undoubtedly bring enormous challenges, both to industry and the authorities. The Ministry of Environment and Urbanisation (MoEU) is currently ill-equipped to enforce the law, with a team of just six people dedicated to registrations, compared with Echa’s 600. 

For industry, KKDIK could be the trigger for substantial consolidation, with many SMEs likely to find themselves priced out of export markets. Smaller manufacturers, which make up more than 80% of Turkey’s chemicals sector, are mostly oblivious to the new legislation.

“I suspect that there are still many people in industry who don’t even know what KKDIK is, although it was published in June,” says Didem Ergun, a senior regulatory compliance professional at Dow Corning Turkey, a major supplier of plastics, polyurethane and silicone.

The key question for now is what steps the ministry will take to ensure strong compliance, according to Dr Yaprak Yuzak Kucukvar, Turkey manager for the Reach Global Services consultancy. There is an urgent need for the ministry to boost staff numbers and put in place a rigorous training and inspection programme.

A senior official at the MoEU confirms that this is the intention. In the run up to the 2023 registration deadline, the ministry will build staff infrastructure “in a very serious sense”, he adds.

Training hurdle

KKDIK imposes tough requirements on the qualification of chemical assessment experts (KDU in Turkish) with an additional annex detailing training and certification requirements for persons signing the chemical safety reports (CSRs).

Domestic players, as well as non-Turkish companies exporting raw materials to Turkey and multinationals with local subsidiaries, will now have to appoint Turkish-speaking KDUs. This will be a major headache for all operators.

The MoEU says that Annex 18 of KKDIK, ‘Conditions for receiving certificate of competency of chemical assessment expert’ – this does not exist in REACH – is intended to act as a filter to ensure registration dossiers are of high quality. This issue still troubles Echa, even after ten years of REACH implementation. 

The ministry estimates that around 30 people, including its own staff, may be eligible to train potential KDUs. However, many in industry are worried that the number of professionals who can produce high-quality documents in Turkish, even after taking the required 64-hour training, is limited. 

“Very few people in Turkey have the skills to even navigate the ministry’s software programme,” says Dr Ahmet Rasim Ozkan, quality control and R&D manager at the medium-sized Turkish petrochemicals firm Aschem.

Annex 18 also complicates matters for foreign companies, who employ REACH experts in Europe but will struggle to find high calibre people for this work in Turkey. The ministry has said that it is against foreign nationals signing the CSRs, even though KKDIK does not make a reference to citizenship in this context. Dow Corning’s Ms Ergun says that the company is deliberating over expert training.

KDU training is set to flourish as a new niche business, however. A handful of institutions have already launched courses, with the proviso that the ministry needs to approve them. The Turkish Chemical Manufacturers Association (TKSD) and the private consultancy CRAD have appointed senior industry figures to run their new training initiatives. 

Glitches await the prospective trainees too. Mustafa Bagan, the TKSD’s training coordinator, says that it will be hard enough to download the ministry’s software programme, let alone learn how to use it, given its complexity. The European chemical industry council, Cefic, has flagged concerns over the compatibility of the Turkish IT system with that of REACH.

Substitution ‘inevitable’

Although Turkish companies have already registered hundreds of substances under REACH, there is still a mammoth task ahead to log dossiers under KKDIK. “We can’t just say ‘This is a copy of the EU law’ and simply reproduce them for KKDIK, because there may be new substances for Turkey that have no registration or data in the EU yet,” says Ms Ergun.

Pre-registrations are due by the end of 2018. The ministry expects that, at a minimum, around 3,000 substances that were already filed under the previous chemicals regulation, KEK, will feature in pre-Siefs.

KKDIK’s Annex 17, ‘Restrictions on the manufacture, placing on the market and use of certain dangerous substances, mixtures and articles’, has been prepared in parallel with REACH, with restrictions to be phased in until 2023. The annex currently has restrictions on 38 substances and substance groups, including 20 added under KKDIK.

Annex 14, ‘Candidate list’, is currently empty but the ministry has said it will follow Echa’s lead and suggest a preliminary list, then seek stakeholder views before publishing the final version.

The 2023 registration deadline applies to all chemicals manufactured or imported in volumes over one tonne/year. This means that new tests will need to be carried out on many substances and exposure scenarios generated must be. 

This could prove to be another difficulty, because Turkey has no laboratories complying with Good Laboratory Practice (GLP), which is a requirement under REACH. There has been talk about setting one up, but the MoEU says it does not foresee a new public or private sector initiative in the context of GLP for now.

Chemicals restricted in the EU but until now permitted in Turkey, with concentration limits applicable to some articles, will suffer a similar fate under KKDIK. One example is the plasticiser dioctyl phthalate (DOP), which has been banned under REACH since February 2015 other than for authorised uses, due to its reprotoxic and endocrine-disrupting properties. 

“DOP continues to be manufactured in Turkey,” says Dr Kucukvar, “but now it will be subject to the same procedures, with transitional periods which are not yet published by the MoEU.” Substitution will become “unavoidable” in Turkey, she adds, but industry players say this will push up costs, as alternatives are mostly imported. Limited R&D budgets have handicapped research into alternative products. 

Costs will also balloon as a result of having to purchase data sharing rights from European consortia. Long negotiations can be expected with data owners, similar to those in South Korea relating to K-REACH. Turkish manufacturers will feel the pinch even more, as many of them have already paid for the same data for REACH registrations.

Discussions on data have yet to begin, however, with consortia bogged down with preparations for the May 2018 REACH deadline. “Turkey is not on their radar at the moment,” says CRAD’s Melih Babayigit.

Questions over enforcement

With just days before KKDIK becomes law, many questions remain on the practicalities of enforcement. Without a strong inspection programme and penalties, much of Turkey’s chemical sector will continue to operate underground, observers believe. 

“The ministry has to recruit and train new inspectors and put them forward,” says Aschem’s Dr Ozkan.

The MoEU has yet to reveal its enforcement plans. It says that KKDIK puts the responsibility for risk management on industry. Meanwhile, a senior official has told Chemical Watch that existing penalties on chemicals would continue to apply under KKDIK. This sets a maximum penalty of TL1m (€220,350).

Despite the rough ride ahead, KKDIK is expected to have an overall positive impact on trade and increase Turkey’s cooperation with the EU on several levels, according to Riku Rinta-Jouppi, partner-head of global compliance at Helsinki-based REACHLaw.

“Chemicals trade with EU and South Korea has certainly been increasing since the introduction of K-REACH although it would be difficult to demonstrate any direct causal connection,” he says.

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