EU – ECHA Database Proposal for SVHCs in Articles

The European Chemical Agency (ECHA) developed an updated specification on the upcoming SVHC in articles reporting database and circulated to a very limited set of stakeholders.  The document, titled “Detailed information requirements for the database on articles containing Candidate List substances under the Waste Framework Directive” is the next step in ECHA developing the database.   A very short 2 weeks were provided for comments in May 2019.

ECHA has retained most of the data fields that were in their original proposal, but many are now proposed as optional instead of mandatory. Industry pushed back on the original proposal arguing that the extensive data reporting was (1) not supported by requirements in the REACH regulation and the Waste Framework Directive (WFD) and (2) impractical to obtain for complex products with multi-level BOMs.  ECHA responded that the requirements specified in the regulations justify the data fields but have never-the-less acquiesced by making many of the fields optional.

However, the requirement to report the first articles containing SVHCs is retained in the proposal.  Furthermore, the database will require the manufacturers to report the “article category name and code” – the ‘code’ is described as being the Combined Nomenclature (CN) code that is used for customs purposes.  CN codes are based on the International Harmonized System (HS) and tend to be a bit of a mystery to everyone except import/export experts. Most manufacturers know the CN code for their products but may not know the CN/HS codes for articles buried deep in the BOM of a complex product.

To demonstrate the requirement, ECHA provides an example database submission for an imported car.  The example involves reporting a car as a complex object; that contains an engine as a complex object; and an O-ring containing an SVHC that is an article within the engine. In the example, the O-ring is identified with article code “4008 21 90: [4008: Plates, sheets, strip, rods and profile shapes, of vulcanised rubber other than hard rubber; – Of non-cellular rubber;] — Other”

Impact on EEE Manufacturers

Between the combination of (1) the European Court of Justice ruling that SVHC concentration is based on when it is first applied to an article and (2) the metal lead was added to the Candidate List, most complex EEE products are likely to contain at least one SVHC above the 0.1% threshold and possibly several SVHCs.  Therefore, the reporting requirements for the database, especially information about first articles containing an SVHC will be challenging for many EEE manufacturers. The information goes beyond the what OEMs typically collect from their suppliers.

ECD Compliance can assist manufacturers and solution providers to stay up to date on emerging developments on the database and to prepare supply chain management operations and IT systems for the SVHC in article reporting requirements.