SVHC obligations for products imported into Europe have just become significantly more complicated. Manufacturers will need to start tracking and reporting SVHC content in components in their product to comply with today’s European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruling,
The ECJ issued its anticipated judgment on the contentious issue of interpretation of ‘article’ within the EU REACH regulation as it relates to SVHC reporting and communication requirements. The changes are captured in the last few paragraph of the “Judgment of the Court (Third Chamber)”:
On those grounds, the Court (Third Chamber) hereby rules:
1. Article 7(2) of Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 December 2006 concerning the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH), establishing a European Chemicals Agency, amending Directive 1999/45/EC and repealing Council Regulation (EEC) No 793/93 and Commission Regulation (EC) No 1488/94 as well as Council Directive 76/769/EEC and Commission Directives 91/155/EEC, 93/67/EEC, 93/105/EC and 2000/21/EC, as amended by Commission Regulation (EU) No 366/2011 of 14 April 2011, must be interpreted as meaning that, for the purposes of application of that provision, it is for the producer to determine whether a substance of very high concern identified in accordance with Article 59(1) of that regulation, as amended, is present in a concentration above 0.1% weight by weight of any article it produces and, for the importer of a product made up of more than one article, to determine for each article whether such a substance is present in a concentration above 0.1% weight by weight of that article.
2. Article 33 of Regulation No 1907/2006, as amended, must be interpreted as meaning that, for the purposes of application of that provision, it is for the supplier of a product one or more constituent articles of which contain(s) a substance of very high concern identified in accordance with Article 59(1) of that regulation in a concentration above 0.1% weight by weight of that article, to inform the recipient and, on request, the consumer, of the presence of that substance by providing them, as a minimum, with the name of the substance in question.
In developing its ruling, the court did not find a legal basis in the REACH regulation for an article to lose its status as an article when it is assembled into a more complex product. This “no longer an article” principle had been the basis of ECHA’s guidance for calculating percent SVHC based on the entire weight of the finished imported article. Therefore, the court ruled that all articles must meet the requirements specified in the REACH regulation.
The court ruling confirms the first article interpretatation advocated by France, Belgium, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and Austria. The implication being that SVHC reporting and communication obligations associated with an article do not disappear when an article is included as a component in a larger, complex article. This suggests that manufacturers and importers must assess the SVHC concentrations in each article of a complex product and, in turn, meet the communication, notification and authorisation obligations based on this determination.
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