The concept of PLC is removed from the registration framework

July 20, 2022

The concept of low concern polymer (LCP)

The European Commission has taken the decision to remove the concept of a polymer of low concern (PLC) from its draft for the registration of polymers under REACH. The decision has been shared in joint documents with the competent authorities of the Member States.

This concept has long been a subject of debate during meetings of the competent authorities for REACH and CLP(CARACAL). Generally, the idea was supported by industry, but they also argued for a high degree ofharmonization with existing non-Europeanregulations that already incorporated it.

The Commission had shared a flowchart for identifying polymers requiring registration (PRR). The flowchart illustrates the concept with the Caracal Polymer Subgroup (CASG-Polymers). However, at the last meeting the PRR flowchart did not include the concept of PLC.

RRP Organization Chart

What are the reasons?

The lack of scientific evidence is one of the main reasons. The Commission announced that the identification of a PLC substance must be justified by scientific evidence. However, the Commission noted a lack of evidence for the categories of PLC in other jurisdictions. In addition, the lack of harmonization was also a relevant issue in making this decision.

It should be noted that the Commission has not yet given all the details on the procedure for registration. Further information is therefore expected in its final proposal. Meanwhile, other entities such as CEFIC are questioning the usefulness of such an exclusion.

Criteria for identifying polymers of low concern

In 2021, the Commission had shared a revision of the criteria for polymers of low concern. The exclusion was based on water absorption and a European list of polyester reagents.

At that time, it was announced that the study for DFCs would be part of the EU chemicals strategy.  

Thus a new criterion was added to the list, which included 4 criteria:

  • The molecular weight
  • Reactive functional groups 
  • Approved polyesters
  • Composition, iconicity, degradation and hazard classification

Increasing the criteria to 5.

What are my regulatory obligations for polymers?

Although polymers are not directly subject to REACH, their monomer components require registration if they meet one of the following two conditions:

  • The polymer contains 2% weight by weight (w/w) or more of such monomer substance(s) or chemically bound substance(s)
  • The total quantity of such monomer or other substance(s) reaches 1 ton or more per year (the total quantity in this context is the total quantity of monomer or other substance(s) that will be chemically bound to the polymer).

Classification and labeling rules are however mandatory for polymers, according to the CLP 1272/2008 regulation. It is also mandatory to notify ECHA, in case the polymer is classified as hazardous or at risk.

Regulatory context

InArticle 3, paragraph 5 of the REACH Regulation, the definition of a polymer is as follows

"A substance consisting of molecules characterized by the sequence of one or more types ofmonomer units. These molecules must be distributed over a range of molecular weights, with differences in molecular weight due primarily to differences in the numbers of monomer units. A polymer includes:

(a) a simple majority by weight of molecules containing at least three monomer units covalently bonded to at least one other monomer unit or to another reactive substance;

(b) an amount less than a simple weight majority of molecules of the same molecular weight. For the purposes of this definition, "monomer unit" means the reacted form of a monomer substance in a polymer."

When REACH came into force in 2007, polymers were not the priority forregistration. This could be explained by the fact that not all polymers were considered as polymers under REACH.

Effectively, ECHA shared in 2012 a guidance on polymers, indicating that 50% of the weight of the substance must be polymeric molecules. In addition, the amount of polymer molecules with the same molecular weight must be less than 50% by weight of the substance.

The European Commission has shared its goal of making certain polymers subject toREACH registration in 2019. During a meeting, the Commission had stated that it was working on a proposal toregister polymers. The final proposal was expected by 2022.

In 2020, an EU study predicted that 33,000 polymers may require REACH registration (RRP). According to the report by Wook and Peter Fisk Associates (PFA), two consulting firms, the number of polymers on the market was 200,000, of which 100,000 were polymers of low concern (PLC).


EcoMundo accompanies you in all the steps of the REACH registration. For more information, please visit our dedicated REACH service page.

We also offer software to help you with the labelling and classification of your products:

  • SDS Factory allows you to create and manage your MSDSs based on the classification rules‍
  • MAT Factory offers you the possibility to stay up to date with the latest regulations

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