Chrome plating has been used for many years for decorative purposes, to provide corrosion resistance, or to increase surface hardness of other metals and substrates, but soon it may become harder for surface finishing and coating companies to offer this service.

Following the proposed changes to the SVHC (Substances of Very High Concern) list and the requirements of the REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and restriction of Chemicals) Directive, it will become increasingly difficult for companies to work with certain chemicals.

This unfortunately could be D-Day for chemicals used in surface finishing and coating processes, including chromium trioxide, which is commonly used for chrome plating.

Although it does not mean that you have to stop the process of chrome plating altogether, it does mean that you will have to follow the strict guidelines under REACH.  Depending on the quantity of chemicals which feature on the SVHC list that you use, you may be required to inform the ECHA, as well as seek authorisation to carry on using them.

To put it simply, if you use chemicals which have been manufactured in, or imported into, the European Union, or have been produced during chemical reactions during surface finishing and coating processes, in quantities of one tonne or more per year, you will need to comply with REACH.

The amendments to the SVHC list will have a significant impact on many companies working in the surface engineering industry here in the UK, but it doesn’t just affect the use of chromium trioxide. Cadmium and boric acid are two of many other substances included in the latest proposed amendments.

The UKCSF’s helpful guidance document on REACH is available to download from our website.  This document provides helpful information on how to register the chemicals you use and whether or not you actually need to register.

If you are still confused about the SVHC list and the REACH Directive, or have any particular questions about how it affects your business, one of our team will be happy to help and give you advice.