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The EU Court of Justice passed a ruling on the 10th September on the interpretation of the requirement to notify the European Chemical Agency (ECHA) about the presence of a substance of very high concern (SVHC) in an ‘article’.
A link to the press release is below:
The ruling disagrees with the interpretation of an ‘article’ as described in the guidance documents produced by the ECHA in 2011. In that document, the guidance was that the duties to notify and provide information laid out in the regulation apply only if the substance of very high concern exceeds 0.1% in the entire article.
Following the publication of the guidance documents, several countries expressed the view that where a complex article was constructed from several final components, then the component would be an article in its own right. The ruling by the EU Court of Justice supports this interpretation on an article.
This new ruling states that producers must disclose per REACH Article 33 requirements at the level of the ‘simple’ article, rather than at the aggregate level of the ‘complex’ article.
A link to the test of the ruling is below:
The implications of the ruling mean that the obligation of to notify the ECHA of the presence of an SVHC in a concentration above 0.1% by weight of any article will apply to each ‘simple article’ which is used produce a more complex product.
This interpretation could have a significant impact on the importers of consumer goods. It would mean that in the case of a product such as an item of apparel, the new ruling could apply to each individual component on the garment. The buttons, zippers and similar accessories could be considered as ‘articles’ in their own right and subject to the notification and information requirements of REACH if an SVHC is present above the 0.1% concentration by weight threshold.
The Court of Justice also ruled that the duty to provide information with regard to the recipients and consumers of the product is not restricted to the producers and importers but applies to all operators along the supply chain when that person supplies an article to a third party. It is therefore the responsibility of the person supplying a product comprised of one or more constituent articles of which contain(s) a substance of very high concern in a concentration above 0.1% to provide information and provide the recipient and the consumer of the product, as a minimum, with the name of the substance in question.
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