Lead under REACH - What does this mean for leaded copper alloys?

Together with the European Drinking Water Association and the European Copper Institute, figawa held an information event on 12 March 2019 entitled ISH, the world's leading trade fair for water, heat and air conditioning, entitled "Lead under REACH – What could it mean for leaded copper alloys".

One of the objectives of the REACH Regulation to ensure that substances of very high concern are included in Annex XIV of the REACH Regulation after a detailed evaluation and can therefore only be used with an appropriate authorisation. The substances are assessed by a committee of EU member states. If this committee decides that a substance has met the criteria of very high concern, ECHA will include the substance in a so-called "candidate list" as a first step. This was done for lead in June last year.
Lead is used in many materials for gas and water supply, especially in copper alloys and would be very expensive to replace with another substance; in many cases there is no adequate alternative for lead.

The aim of the event was therefore to inform the affected companies as comprehensively as possible about the obligations arising from the inclusion of lead in the candidate list. On the other hand, it was also of great concern to the participating associations to give an overview of the current and future activities of the individual associations, all of which aim to ensure that lead can continue to be used in copper alloys. 

The event, attended by more than 60 participants, was moderated by Volker Meyer, Managing Director of figawa and Chairman of the European Drinking Water Alliance. An overview of the legal obligations that arise for companies that use lead in their products was given by lawyer Michael Öttinger of the law firm Noerr LLP in his introductory speech.

Subsequently, Dr. Katia Lacasse, of the European Copper Institute, informed the participants about the activities of the various associations and stakeholders involved, so that the use of lead can be guaranteed in the future as well. 

As the last speaker, Georg Taubert from Geberit International gave an insight into a best-practice example which very clearly demonstrated how substance law is comprehensively implemented in a multinational corporation.  

"Despite the inclusion of lead on the candidate list, it can still be used today just as it was before – there is still no obligation to register"

Participants were well informed and were able to continue the second day of the ISH with this key message after the concluding panel discussion, during which some questions from the audience were answered by the speakers. 

The presentations are available to figawa members on the intranet as follows: