If you are like me, you may be having trouble wrapping your mind around the EU's comprehensive REACH program. For the benefit of those unfamiliar with this term, REACH stands for Registration, Evaluation, and Authorization of Chemicals.
The purpose of REACH is to identify and restrict certain harmful chemicals used in industry, which can be classified as substances, mixtures, or articles manufactured or sold into the EU. The REACH program is being overseen by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) and is a long overdue, urgently needed, and excellently contrived initiative.
I have been reading articles, attending numerous Webinars, watching countless videos, talking to key REACH involved individuals, camping out at the ECHA Website, and trying to grasp the scope of the current and potential impact of REACH on the electronics industry. In my last article, I listed both RoHS and REACH compliance as requirements for a part to be included on the Preferred Parts List (PPL), especially for those firms that are marketing into the REACH countries. (See: Developing the Preferred Parts List.)
But, here is what all this reminds me of. I believe it is called the "God Paradox." The question, as usually posed, is: "Can God create an object so heavy that even He can't lift it?" My answer to that is easy. "If God, with all of His infinite capabilities, chose a moment in time when He decided to construct an object He couldn't lift at that particular moment in time, then the answer would be 'Yes,' " But I would also continue my response by saying, "Not for long," because in the next moment, being Master of All Things where nothing is impossible to Him by definition, He could remove the self-imposed restriction and toss the object like a paperweight far out into the Universe... and beyond.
Let me ask another question. "Can man, with all of his finite capabilities, create a program that would be so expensive, so expansive, so bureaucratic, so time consuming, so difficult, so industry cramping, that even he, man, couldn't manage it?" My answer, after familiarizing myself with the REACH initiative, is a resounding "yes."
Don't misunderstand me please. The Registration, Evaluation, and Authorization of certain Chemicals classified as substances of very high concern (SVHC), is a very good and necessary program, but it has been introduced late in the game, and consequently, it is like trying to stuff the feathers that have been scattered by the wind, back into the pillows from whence they came. Where are these feathers now? Some have come to rest in toys, packaging, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, food, clothing, tools, appliances, household cleaning products, computer hardware, and all manner of products we use every single day.