A special standards development meeting was hosted by IPC in Genoa, Italy on November 19, 2018 to discuss material declaration requirements relating to the ECHA SVHC in articles database that will be coming online in 2020. A representative from ECHA attended the meeting to discuss the information that ECHA currently foresees manufacturers will need to submit into the database. Representatives from material declaration standards IPC-1754, IC-1752A and IEC 62474 attended the meeting.
Most of the meeting was spent with the ECHA representative describing their expectations on data requirements, answering questions, and standards developers discussing how current industry material declaration practices could support the database (and where there are significant gaps).
The database is mandated by the revised Waste Framework Directive (WFD) published in June 2018. Product manufacturers, importers, distributors, retailers and other actors manufacturing or selling products in the EU will be required to submit information about the SVHC content in their products into the central database starting in January 2021. A submission will only be required if the product contains an SVHC above the 0.1 mass percent of article threshold. However, many complex electronic products, subassemblies, and components contain one or more SVHC(s) and will need to be registered in the database.
Based on the proposed scenario document provided by ECHA in mid September, compiling the information will be a challenge for many companies and could potentially reveal confidential business information (CBI). Industry has been pushing back, suggesting that the proposed data submission requirements go beyond the requirements specified in REACH Article 33 and the WFD.
ECHA Presentation on Data Requirements
Most of the morning was spent with the ECHA representative presenting background information on the ECHA scenario and answering questions from participants.
The ECHA representative at the meeting presented an interesting argument trying to justify the information in the scenario document by taking words or phrases from the text of REACH Article 33 and describing the implications. Such words/phrases included supplier of the article, substance, concentration about 0.1%,recipient and sufficient information.
ECHA is recommending that an article-based approach is needed with a unique identifier and other information about the article with the SVHC information. ECHA stated that:
“Aggregation of data can only be performed if the data is collected more detailed than the aggregation need”.
ECD Compliance’s impression from the meeting is that ECHA is becoming aware of the challenges in compiling the proposed information given practical realities such as a global supply chain, multi-sourcing of parts, and confidential business information (CBI). As a result of the feedback and discussions that have taken place, ECHA is working on updating its scenario document. However, ECHA was also clear in stating that the mandate for the database is now cast in law and will move forward in a manner that meets the needs of consumers and recyclers. Given the short timeframe to develop the database, ECHA intends to repurpose an existing database, most likely the European Poison Centre database.
ECHA intends to specify its own format for submitting information into the database – despite several standards development groups promoting the use of an existing material declaration standard. ECHA will write a new module for their IUCLID chemical system to support the SVHC in articles submissions. Their intention is that the interface will allow automated (computer to computer) submissions into the database (this will be important given that current manual submissions into IUCLID can take a couple hours to complete).
The ECHA proposal that all database submissions must identify the article (first article) containing the SVHC and the concentration range is still an open issue. Many REACH declarations and/or material declarations of supplier parts and subassemblies do not identify the exact location of the SVHC and only indicate that an SVHC is present. One suggestion raised during the meeting was an approach whereby SVHCs would be related to an assembly or functional unit of a product instead of the first article (this would be similar to the way that the China RoHS declaration works). However, there was no indication that this would be acceptable to ECHA.
Another issue is the unique identifier and how it is generated and used.
There was also good discussion on the reporting challenges posed by multi-sourced parts, whereby similar parts from different suppliers may have different SVHC constituents. This creates a challenge for reporting – a manufacturer could declare a worst-case sum of all SVHCs across all parts, but this results in over reporting.
For safe use information, ECHA is thinking about creating a standard list of safe use phrases that could be used for submission into the database.
Impact on EEE Manufacturers
Given that many EEE products contain SVHCs, the EU SVHC in articles database will be a significant challenge and overhead for many EEE manufacturers. Questions are still being raised as to whether the information in the database will have any practical usefulness to consumer and recyclers as mandated. However, it seems that one of the EU’s objectives in implementing the database is to prompt manufacturers to expedite removal of SVHCs from their products. With lead reportable as an SVHC in the database, we may see some product and component manufacturers try harder to eliminate the use of these exemptions.
For additional information on the upcoming requirements of the ECHA SVHC in articles database or how to collect the required information from suppliers, contact ECD Compliance.