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Why compliance in the chemical industry means better business for everyone

Compliance can be a strategic tool that – properly understood and applied – can be used to improve your business. With an ever-growing jungle of chemical legislation and regulations impacting the chemical industry, it can be tempting to turn compliance into a tick-box exercise. But we believe compliance doesn’t have to be all stick and no carrot. Our experience shows compliance can be an exciting opportunity to drive better business practices – enhancing efficiency, saving money, inspiring innovation, and enabling business growth.

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1. Protecting people and our planet

Compliance with health and safety and environmental regulations like EPA, REACH, UK REACH, CLP, GB CLP, COSHH, CDG, DSEAR, BPR, COPR ensure our industry protects the health and safety of workers, consumers and the environment.

2. Meeting your legal obligations

There are numerous legal requirements governing production, handling, transportation, and the disposal of chemicals and packaging. Compliance helps companies avoid repercussions such as fines, lawsuits, and sanctions.

3. Protecting your reputation

Non-compliance can damage a company’s reputation, leading to loss of trust among customers, prospective customers and business partners. Adhering to compliance standards demonstrates a commitment to ethical business practices and responsible stewardship.

4. Minimising risk

Compliance programmes help identify and mitigate safety and environmental risks. By implementing best practices and adhering to regulations, companies can minimise the likelihood and impact of adverse events.

5. Changing macroeconomic/legal business context

The EU is introducing a range of regulations and measures – including through its circular economy action plan (CEAP) and legislation like the new EU Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM). The UK will introduce UK CBAM by 2027. This changing business landscape is setting new standards for chemical-using businesses to meet.


Compliance-driven benefits for your business 

1. Cost savings

Compliance usually involves upfront costs for things like putting safety measures in place, getting permits, hiring in expertise or training employees. But, ultimately, ensuring regulatory compliance saves money by helping you avoid costs like these:

  • Product recalls – the wrong additive in a formula or incorrect labelling could trigger a product recall. Whether voluntary or compulsory, this would be a costly blow that could be avoided.
  • Fines and legal fees – engineering firm Kier was taken to court in 2023 by the Health and Safety Executive resulting in a fine of more than £4m and almost £90,000 in costs. Breach of the UK REACH regulation could result in an unlimited fine and/or up to 2 years imprisonment.
  • Reputational damage – breach chemical legislation in the UK and your company and Directors could find themselves on the HSE’s public register of enforcement notices or public register of convictions which could spell big trouble for your company when trying to attract and secure business.
  • Lost-time incidents and sickness absence – HSE data shows the cost of workplace injuries and work-related ill health to UK businesses was £20.7bn in 2021/2022 alone.

Saving money through compliance isn’t all about the stick – because governments often provide compliance carrots in the form of tax incentives. The UK government has a range of environmental taxes, reliefs and schemes for businesses which can save significant sums for manufacturers if rules are followed correctly.

2. Enhanced efficiency

Compliance frameworks often necessitate documentation, training, and regular audits, which can improve organisational efficiency and accountability. By standardising processes and ensuring clarity in roles and responsibilities, companies can operate more smoothly and proactively identify areas for improvement.

By prioritising compliance, we’re forced to look at everything we do. This helps drive continual improvement and a preventative approach which, ultimately, further reduces costs. 

“Working towards relevant certifications, such as ISO9001, ISO45001 and ISO14001, is a great way to help identify the areas where your business can improve its compliance,” says Andy Byrne at the Rakem Group. “Certifications also give you a great way to show your customers that your business meets high standards.”

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3. Market access and expansion

Many markets require adherence to specific regulatory standards for chemical products to be sold or used. Compliance facilitates market access by ensuring products meet regulatory requirements, enabling companies to expand their customer base and explore new business opportunities.

If your business doesn’t have a regulatory team or product development team, it’s vital to partner with suppliers that can support you in these areas. “The best suppliers don’t just share technical data sheets,” says Andy. “They have deep chemical industry regulatory compliance knowledge which helps them advise and guide your product development and ensure compliance across multiple countries.”

4. Innovation and sustainability

Compliance encourages companies to adopt environmentally friendly practices and develop safer, more sustainable products. By investing in research and development to meet regulatory standards, businesses can stay ahead of competitors and align with evolving consumer preferences for environmentally responsible products.

Embedding good compliance practices in the chemical industry not only helps companies fulfil their legal obligations and safeguard against risks but also fosters a culture of responsibility, innovation, and long-term sustainability.

It’s also important to:

  • Use sustainable materials
  • Be able to quickly access data on the scope one, two and three carbon emissions of your entire manufacturing supply chain. 
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Develop a winning combination of compliance and innovation and your company will leverage the opportunities presented by the new era of sustainability.

Regulatory compliance that makes business sense

It’s vital to find ways to comply with your legal and regulatory obligations in a way that works for your business. From improving efficiencies and savings costs to driving innovation and growing your business. Going beyond a tick-box compliance mentality will pay dividends. 

If you’re looking for a compliance-first chemical supplier that can bring all these benefits and more to your business, get in touch with the Rakem Group.