« EuroCommerce urges Commission to assess proportionality of ‘arising burdens’.
European retailers trade body, EuroCommerce, has called for a moratorium on the enforcement of last week’s court ruling on the notification of SVHCs in articles.
The European Court of Justice (ECJ) backed the view of seven European countries that the 0.1% threshold for notifying SVHCs in articles applies to “each of the articles incorporated as a component of a complex product” rather than to the entire article.
The case relates to two Articles of the REACH Regulation. Article 7(2) says “producers and importers” of articles must notify Echa if an SVHC is present, totalling over one tonne per producer or importer per year, in a concentration higher than 0.1% by weight. Article 33 requires “suppliers” of articles containing an SVHC, above this threshold, to inform the recipient of the article, and to provide similar information in response to consumer enquiries within 45 days.
Denmark – one of the seven countries – publicly welcomed the court’s decision. A statement from its environment ministry said: It “ensures both better information for consumers and a level playing field for businesses”.
But warning that the ruling “upsets sourcing practices that have been developed over decades” and “adds to what are already complex rules for importers”, EuroCommerce said importers need “time for the supply chain to adapt” and that authorities should hold off implementing the decision until Echa has revised the relevant guidance.
It also urged the European Commission to examine the relevant Articles of REACH “to see whether the burdens arising from the court’s ruling are proportionate”.
The trade body said the ruling is likely to mean “a lot more testing” of materials and components. But some industry observers say this will not always be necessary, and it should often be possible for article importers to get the information they need on SVHCs from their suppliers.
Nonetheless, even this will be a major undertaking.
« Generally, importers of articles will be heavily affected by the new developments,” said Thomas Berner, group leader for regulatory compliance at Dr Knoell Consult. “They need to go back to their supply chains and evaluate whether component articles contain more than 0.1% of candidate substances.
“Additionally, and this also affects the producers of complex articles, the information obligations according to Article 33 now require knowledge about the complex articles provided. Whereas manufacturers of chemicals and formulators, as well as other downstream users dealing with chemicals, are commonly aware of their REACH obligations, this awareness might be less pronounced in article manufacturing and importing companies.”
Mr Berbner said it will be difficult for sellers of complex articles to obtain complete and reliable information on SVHCs in their products, because many of their suppliers are outside Europe and, until now, have not been affected by the REACH Regulation.
“Questionnaires on REACH compliance – even in the chemicals sector – are often left unanswered or it takes quite some time to receive proper feedback. We expect that getting answers will be even more difficult in the articles sector,” he said.”
Article from Geraint Roberts
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