Do you produce, import, distribute articles or sell them to customers within the European Union? Are you aware of the chemicals that your articles contain? As a supplier, you need to know about the chemicals your articles contain and have the duty to tell about them!
Under the European REACH Regulation (Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals), Article 3(3) defines an article as follows:
"An article is an object which during production is given a special shape, surface or design which determines its function to a greater degree than does its chemical composition."
This definition applies to almost all “solid” products such as textiles, furniture, shoes, sports equipment, toys or electronic devices and to each individual component of an assembled article, if this component comes under the REACH article definition. Certain products might not fall in an obvious category of articles and it might be challenging to determine whether the product is considered an article under REACH. Such can be the case for example for a ballpoint pen or a printer cartridge. To help you identify whether a product is considered an article under REACH, you may use a guidance provided by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA).
Simplified examples of what could be considered as a consumer article or not are available in the consumer section of this website under “your right to know”
The consumer’s right to receive and your duty to communicate information on Substances of Very High Concern (SVHC) in your articles is defined by Article 33 of the REACH Regulation: every supplier within the supply chain has to provide, free of charge, the recipient of an article with information on the presence of every SVHC contained in this article (if the concentration of the SVHC is > 0.1%, w/w) together with sufficient information on the safe use of the article. On request and within 45 days, the same information has to be provided to consumers.
Although chemical mixtures such as domestic cleaning agents, cosmetics or paints do not come under Article 33 REACH, their packaging however is considered as articles and the communication duty on the SVHC contained in the packaging material does apply. For such mixtures however, other specific communication obligations exist, such as in the form of Safety Data Sheets (SDS), as defined in Article 31(1) REACH or those imposed by the Classification, Labelling and Packaging (CLP) Regulation.
In case of doubt about your duties, you may contact the national REACH&CLP Helpdesk Luxembourg, which offers free-of-charge assistance in the two respective legislations for companies in Luxembourg.
Note that certain articles might also be regulated under more specific legal frameworks such as the Restriction of Hazardous Substances, RoHs, Directive (2011/65/EU) for electronic equipment or the Toy Safety Directive (2009/48/EC) set to regulate the safety of toys within the European Union.
Obligation under REACH:
According to Article 7(1) REACH, registrationof substances in articles is required from producers and importers when both conditions listed are fulfilled:
- The substance is intended to be released under normal or reasonably foreseeable conditions of use.
- The total amount of the substance present in all articles with intended release produced or imported by one actor exceeds 1 tonne per year.
According to Article 7(2) REACH, notificationof Candidate List substances in articles is required from producers and importers of articles when both of the following conditions are met:
- The substance is present in those articles in quantities totaling over one tonne per producer or importer per year
- The substance is present in those articles above a concentration of 0,1% (w/w)
Obligation under WFD:
Following the revised Waste Framework Directive (EU) 2018/851 (WFD), which entered into force 4th July 2018 and aims for a better management of waste and address its impact on the environment and the Human health, companies supplying articles containing SVHCs in a concentration above 0.1% weight by weight on the European market have to submit information on these articles to ECHA (Art. 9(1)(i) WFD). This duty has started on the 5th January 2021. On this basis the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) developed a database for information on Substances of Concern In articles as such or in complex objects (Products), SCIP, in accordance with Art. 9(2) WFD.
Are you a retailer selling articles on the European market? Then, you are also concerned by the communication obligation described in Article 33 REACH.
As a retailer you are an important link between the supply chain and the consumers, thus you need to be able to communicate with article producers or suppliers and have to be prepared to respond to the needs of customers concerning SVHC content or safe use of articles you sell.
The AskREACH project has foreseen a special action for retailers – to help them comply with the duties related to SVHC communication. This action provides concrete support to retailers including training and information material as well as tools to manage the SVHC information of their article portfolio. You can read more about the retailer action in the task outline.
On this regard, we provide important support so please do not hesitate to contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org
Important information could be also found in the following documents:
- Am I aware of the chemicals legislations (i.e. REACH) applicable to my business/products?
- Is my company an article supplier, i.e. it produces, imports, distributes and/or places articles on the market within the European Union?
- Could my business be concerned by the REACH Regulation and by the communication duty set to article suppliers by REACH Article 33? Am I sufficiently informed about my other REACH and WFD duties concerning substances in articles?
- Although not legally required, from the point of view of customer service, it can be considered as “good practice” to also answer a consumer SVHC request even if your article in question does not contain any SVHCs!
- When answering consumers’ SVHC requests, you can have a look at the points that we gathered for you in this article.