The EU's REACH Committee Agrees to Eliminate the use of Chromium Trioxide in Manufacturing Processes

March 27, 2019
Author: Vergason Technology

On Friday February 15, 2019, the REACH Committee of the European Commission in Brussels Belgium, voted on a proposal which will have a major positive impact on Van Etten, NY-based Vergason Technology Inc.

The European Union’s REACH committee representatives agreed to eliminate the use of chromium trioxide in most manufacturing processes by September 21, 2024. This legislation (VIEW HERE) will prohibit the use of chromium trioxide in a broad array of manufactured products.

Chromium trioxide is a major component of galvanic chrome plating on plastics, which is used extensively in automotive decorative trim, white goods (appliance), and plastic plumbing and sanitary components. Examples of automotive products affected are grills, rear view mirror housings, trim spears, rear appliques, door handles, dash board trim, and shift-gate bezels. For sanitary and white goods, it affects showerheads, toilet handles, certain faucets, as well as trim rings and control panels for washers, dryers, stovetops, and more.

Why does this affect Vergason?

Vergason Technology has patented and is currently promoting an alternative decorative chrome process called SuperChrome®. SuperChrome is a PVD (Physical Vapor Deposition) coating that contains no chromium trioxide, nor any other hazardous elements. It is an environmentally-friendly process that presents a very attractive alternative to galvanic chrome plating for the world-wide markets utilizing decorative Chrome.

Vergason is a world-class supplier of PVD systems and has been actively promoting the SuperChrome coating, process, and equipment to the Auto, Sanitary, Appliance, and other industries for several years. This recent news will drive industries in Europe to urgently seek alternatives to galvanic chrome plating, such as SuperChrome, as they face the legislated sunset date for chromium trioxide five-and-a-half years from now.

Isn’t five years a long time away?

In the automotive world, five years is an eyeblink away. Auto manufacturers award contracts 2-3 years ahead of model year releases to their Tier 1/Tier 2 supply chain for trim components. These suppliers are already establishing manufacturing plans and schedules for model years 2022 and 2023. As companies view the looming STOP date for traditional galvanic chrome plating, they must move quickly to establish alternatives.

What is REACH?

REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals) is a regulation of the European Union, adopted to improve the protection of human health and the environment from the risks that can be posed by chemicals, while enhancing the competitiveness of the EU chemicals industry. It also promotes alternative methods for the hazard assessment of substances in order to reduce the number of tests on animals.

In principle, REACH applies to all chemical substances; not only those used in industrial processes but also in our day-to- day lives, for example in cleaning products, paints as well as in articles such as clothes, furniture and electrical appliances. Therefore, the regulation has an impact on most companies across the EU.