ERA magazine Gravure News issue 183 published

Gravure News 183

The ERA magazine Gravure News includes reports about events, trends and technical developments, as well as company reports and socio-economic issues with respect to the gravure industry. The magazine is published at least once a year and is circulated in a print run of 1500 copies worldwide within the gravure community.

In this issue:

  • Gravure market in Pakistan
  • Chromium trioxide authorization
  • Carbon fibre rollers
  • Shift018 in Bangkok

The Gravure News magazine is available to members of the European Rotogravure Association. Please contact the ERA office for more information on ERA membership.

Chromium trioxide remains a crucial issue!

by James Siever, ERA Secretary General

“Chromium(VI) in discussion” was the headline of edition 173 of this magazine in 2012 which reported about the consequences of the EU REACH legislation for gravure. In that cover story it was precisely described what happened: chromium trioxide like all water-soluble chromium(VI) compounds was listed as a substance of high concern, and thus was practically banned by 21 September 2017 (“sunset date”) unless its further use would be authorized by the EU Commission.

For our industry chromium trioxide is absolutely indispensable. It is used in cylinder plating to guarantee the hardness of the gravure cylinder, and an alternative to replace chromium trioxide is currently not in sight. Many other industries are also dependent on chromium trioxide, e.g. the automotive and aviation industries.

As chromium trioxide is used by our industry under strictly controlled conditions, the said cover story concluded: “We are optimistic that chromium trioxide may be able to be used in rotogravure in the future”.

Now, seven years later, following a long and complex authorization process, in which ERA was actively involved on behalf of our industry, the submission of the Chromium Trioxide Authorization Consortium (CTACSub), which covered the gravure industry as downstream user, was approved by the EU Commission. This means for our industry an authorization to further use chromium trioxide until 21 September 2024.

However, our optimism at the beginning of the authorization was put to a severe test.

After the European Chemical Agency, in charge of the authorization process, made a positive recommendation on our submission, the final decision of the EU Commission still took several years and exceeded even the “sunset date” by 18 months.

And finally the outcome of the meeting of the EU REACH Committee on 13-14 February to decide upon our submission became unclear as Germany was opposing the authorization. This was politically astonishing, as Germany is the country where most of the industries using chromium trioxide are located.

ERA’s quick information activities towards its members in the EU, as well as the efficient lobbying towards the governments in the different member states, have raised awareness of this issue for our industry, and may have helped to secure the approval of the authorization by the EU REACH Committee.

However, for the time being, the final confirmation of the authorization remains unclear, as the EU Commission has now asked the REACH Committee to rediscuss its decision at its next meeting on 11-12 April. Provided that it confirms the decision, the authorization will expire on 21 September 2024 and will have to be renewed. Thus, chromium trioxide will remain a crucial issue on our agenda.

In order to be successful in this challenging process a common and coordinated approach by our industry will be necessary. ERA as the technical organisation of the gravure industry is ready to contribute again with its knowledge and experience to the preparation of the submission, and to help our industry over the hurdle of the authorization process.