Category Archives: nl2019q1

EU – ECHA/Standards Meeting on SVHC in Articles Database

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).

Background

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”.

 

Moving Forward

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).

Open Issues

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.

Canada – Publishes Asbestos Restrictions

On October 18, 2018, Canada published the Prohibition of Asbestos and Products Containing Asbestos Regulations (SOR/2018-196). The tight restriction of asbestos use is not surprising, but the lack of a specific threshold for some aspects of the regulation is causing concern among some EEE manufacturers.

Paragraph 4 on import, sale or use and paragraph 5 on manufacture states that:

4 Subject to sections 7 to 21, a person must not import, sell or use

  • (a) processed asbestos fibres;
  • (b) a product containing processed asbestos fibres unless those fibres are the result of the degradation of asbestos integrated into a product, a structure or infrastructure; or
  • (c) a consumer product containing asbestos in greater than trace amounts.

5 A person must not manufacture

  • (a) subject to section 8, a product containing processed asbestos fibres unless those fibres are the result of the degradation of asbestos integrated into a product, a structure or infrastructure before the coming into force of these Regulations; or
  • (b) a consumer product containing asbestos in greater than trace amounts.

The complication is that bullet 4(b) suggests an absolute ban on processed asbestos fibres except due to degradation.  This creates a challenge with supplier declarations and in testing for compliance.

The restriction on consumer product specified in bullet 4(c) allows for trace amounts.  Environment Canada has published a separate guidance document[1] on the regulation to try to provide some clarification; however, the use of slightly different terminology in the guidance document versus the regulation creates some additional confusion.

The full text is available on the Justice Laws website[2]. The regulation comes into force on December 30, 2018.

Impact on EEE Manufacturer

Asbestos has been used in several EEE products that generate heat and it can occur in trace quantities in other products.  Given that the regulation doesn’t provide a precise threshold, some EEE manufacturers may decide to implement restrictions and supply chain requirements based on not “intentionally added”.

[1] Environment Canada Guidance on trace amounts of asbestos, https://www.canada.ca/en/environment-climate-change/services/management-toxic-substances/list-canadian-environmental-protection-act/asbestos/trace-asbestos-consumer-products-guidance.html#toc1

[2] Canada Asbestos regulation, https://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/regulations/SOR-2018-196/FullText.html

UAE – Confirms that UAE RoHS Includes B2B Products

On November 15, 2018, the Emirates Authority For Standardization & Metrology issued an updated guidelines document confirming that the scope of UAE RoHS includes B2B (business to business) products. The guidance suggests that a simplified process for a certificate of conformity is being provided for B2B products; however, a very short interim period makes this process impractical except for products that were already lined up for certification through a Certification Body

Canada – Provides Chemicals Assessment Update to EEE Industry

During an annual joint Government/EEE Sector WG meeting held on Thursday, November 15, 2018, Environment and Climate Change Canada provided an update on chemical assessments and regulatory developments.  The update includes:

  • A general update on the Chemical Management Plan (CMP)
  • Chemicals Management Plan: post 2020
  • Update on Flame Retardants
  • Phthalates
  • Update on Mercury Regulations
  • Mercury Lamps: National Strategy
  • Basel Technical Guidelines for E-Waste
  • Zero Plastic Waste Strategy
  • Cyanides, and
  • Formaldehyde

Most of presentations were updates on the strategies and risk assessment activities currently underway.

In October, Environment Canada published a Notice of Intent (NOI) to amend The Prohibition of Certain Toxic Substances Regulations, 2012 (PCTSR) to further restrict five groups of substances: HBCD, PBDEs, PFOS, PFOA, LC-PFCA and to potentially prohibit DP and DBDPE (pending the outcome of a final screening assessment).

On the topic of phthalate substances, Environment Canada indicated that the risk assessment is expected in mid-2019 and they are not able to provide at this time any insight on whether restrictions might be implemented.

Environment Canada is implementing changes to the Mercury restrictions to align with the Minimata convention and restrictions in other jurisdictions. The consultation document on the changes was published last February. Environment Canada expects to publish the new regulation in 2020 with a 1-year delay in implementation.  They indicated that an exemption is planned for replacement parts.