ECHA’s New Executive Director

ECHA’s New Executive Director

Author: ChemViews Magazine

As reported earlier, Bjorn Hansen has been selected as the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA)’s next Executive Director. He will succeed Geert Dancet effective on January 1, 2018. The term of office of ECHA’s Executive Director is five years. It may be prolonged once for a further five years.

Bjorn Hansen is a well-known expert in developing EU chemical legislation. Experts think his main topics for ECHA within the next five years are: improving the dossier quality, shifting focus from collecting data to regulatory control of chemical risks, and contributing towards clear rules for the circular economy.


Dossier Quality
REACH registration requires submitting a dossier and chemical safety report which includes information on human health, environment, exposure hazard assessment, and risk characterization. Dossiers have to contain sufficient scientific data and they must be updated whenever there is a major change or new information available. However, their quality is often low and many dossiers are never updated.

It is expected that Bjorn Hansen will increase the pressure and push registrants harder to improve their dossier quality. In his opinion, the agency “should view dossiers with inadequate data as non-compliant rather than being of poor quality and use its legal powers to bring them into compliance”.


Shift from Collecting Data to Regulatory Control of Chemical Risks
The last REACH registration deadline for existing chemicals will be on 31 May 2018. The deadline concerns companies that manufacture or import substances in low volumes, between 1–100 tonnes per year. After this deadline, ECHA’s main focus is expected to shift from collecting data to regulatory control of chemical risks. ECHA has the largest database of chemicals. It will use this information to identify more chemicals of concern and to phase out those that are extremely dangerous.


Clear Rules for Circular Economy
Bjorn Hansen has been involved in shaping the strategy of the European Commission for the circular economy. Therefore, it is likely that he will actively contribute with ECHA towards establishing rules and processes on how recycled materials are allowed to enter the EU.


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