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Since 2007 essenscia supports SMEs to implement product legislation by two regional projects:

• the Dutch Vlaanderens REACH Implementatie Project (VLARIP) in Flanders,
• and the French speaking Wallonie Reach Implementation Programme (WALRIP) in Wallonia.

Even after more than 10 years, both SME mentorship projects remain a success, because REACH and CLP are complex and continuously evolving legislation governing the gathering of information and communicating the risks and hazards of chemical products. And so the need for sharing of best practises and information on implementation remains as useful. The last phase-in registration deadline of June 2018 was not the end of the information-gathering process, but rather the start of a new REACH implementation phase, with a greater emphasis on risk management, communication and substitution of substances of concern.

Every year, around 45 companies actively participate in VLARIP, mentored by 11 expert companies. Over the past decade, some 600 participants from about 200 companies have shared experiences in one or more of the over 220 VLARIP workshops. The VLARIP project is continuously being supported by mentors (‘meters’ en ‘peters’) from leading companies situated in Belgium who shared their experience and approach on product safety.

85 companies are taking part in WALRIP and the Walloon government continued the support for WALRIP till June 2020. The evaluation of these two projects revealed considerable satisfaction among participants.

In both projects, exchanging experiences is a key element. Among other things, they support SMEs with advice on:

• How to fulfil REACH obligations
• Defining the strategy for substances of very high concern and substances with restricted use; substitution strategies
• Classifying hazardous substances and mixtures according to CLP and worldwide developments
• Improving safety data sheets
• Reporting on nanomaterials
• How to use chemicals safely
• Notification to the Belgian National Poison Information Center
• Consequences for imports from and exports to UK after Brexit

The projects also attracted the interest of the European Chemicals Agency and EU Member States. One of the active members of VLARIP from the beginning, CTF2000, was invited to explain their substitution strategy for flame retardants for textiles at the ECHA Helpnet meeting of November 2017.

In 2018, this unique projects received the Cefic Responisble Care Award.