Inkjet drug regs changes scrapped

Printweek team
Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Industry bodies have welcomed the government’s decision to can looming regulation changes which threatened to effectively ban certain ingredients crucial to the manufacture of inks and press chemistry, including inkjet ink, from next month.

The changes would have impacted the production of £1bn of print
The changes would have impacted the production of £1bn of print

The proposed changes to the Misuse of Drugs Regulations would have removed an exemption previously granted that enabled industrial users, such as inks and coatings manufacturers and also print businesses, to use substances including gamma butyrolactone (GBL) and 1,4-butanediol (BDO) in their products.

The changes were designed to prevent the sale of bogus industrial products for illicit use and would have resulted in GBL and BDO being reclassified as Class B drugs.

However, had they come into force on 15 June as originally planned, the new rules would have also meant that firms that legitimately used or stored products that contain the substances would have required a controlled drugs licence.

This could have negatively impacted circa 4,000 print businesses and the production of some £1bn of print.

But following extensive representation by industry bodies in recent months, with the support of the Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy, the Home Office has now scrapped the planned change and will instead launch a public consultation to develop an alternative licensing requirement to achieve the same goal of protecting the public.

The lobbying on behalf of the print and chemical industries was led by two umbrella organisations, the Graphics and Print Media Alliance (GPMA), which consists of print industry bodies including the BPIF, IPIA and Picon, and the Alliance of Chemical Associations (ACA).

“We are relieved that the proposed legislation has been withdrawn, and that a full consultation will now be carried out to determine the best way forward,” said Charles Jarrold, chair of the GPMA and BPIF CEO.

“We were particularly encouraged by, and appreciative of, the support that the Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy gave us in this process, and the level of engagement from the Home Office. Not only did we coordinate through the GPMA across the entire print supply chain, but we worked closely with the wider chemicals supply chain throughout this process.”

According to the GPMA, existing applicants for a licence will be contacted by the Home Office’s Drugs and Firearms Licensing to explain the next steps in relation to their application, with a view to new legislation coming into force in March 2023.

Tom Bowtell, ACA chair and CEO of the British Coatings Federation, said: “We welcome that government has listened to the concerns of industry and agreed to redraft the required regulations.

“This creates space for proper consultation with businesses as new legislation is drafted over the coming months. We hope these discussions will lead to a more proportionate and effective law, one which delivers on the government's aims, but which does not unduly penalise legitimate users of these substances.”

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