Local companies involved in the supply of biocidal products have been urged to start planning for the impact of a new EU directive which could have a dramatic effect on their costs and production processes.

The companies were briefed about the requirements of the Biocidal Products Directive at a seminar organised by Invest Northern Ireland and co-hosted by the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland. The directive will affect manufacturers of products containing particular active ingredients, such as wood preservatives, insecticides, disinfectants and preservatives.

The directive will require companies to register every product they manufacture which contains biocidal substances. As a result of the directive manufacturers may not be able to continue using certain ingredients and will have to find approved alternatives.

Although the directive is already in operation it will not affect end users for another four to five years, but Dr Dermot Hanna of Invest NI’s scientific services division says that companies need to start thinking about the impact of the directive now rather than wait until they are obliged to act.

“The Directive has a very wide scope, covering 23 product types. Registering products and active ingredients with the Health and Safety Executive will require time and expertise and could be costly for businesses. We’re urging companies to start thinking about what they need to do now.

“Invest NI has the expertise to help companies meet the requirements of the directive and we’re offering to work with them to carry out the registration process. It’s particularly important for companies to identify substitutes for any products that may be prohibited as a result of the directive. “

The aim of the directive is to harmonise the European market for biocidal products and their active substances and to provide a high level of protection for humans, animals and the environment.