Everyone wants a greener world and can only welcome the EU’s Green Deal.
Circular economy is one of the decisive solutions to handle modern societies’ waste problems. Nevertheless, regulations and procedures should be implemented in a reasonable and feasible way and not as mission impossible.
The European Commission’s upcoming implementation of Waste Framework Directive (WFD) for Substances of Very High Concern (SVHCs) in articles go far beyond the requirements of REACH Article 33.1. (REACH is the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals.)
CECE questions this unmanageable task for manufacturers of long-life highly complex non-road mobile machinery, which shall be liable from January 2021.
What is the problem? A new database mandated by the Waste Framework Directive is being set up by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) on behalf of the European Commission (EC) to oblige that ‘any supplier of an article provides the information pursuant to Article 33(1) of Regulation (EC) 1907/2006 (REACH) to the European Chemicals Agency as from 5 January 2021’.
The aim of this obligation is to provide recyclers with information on the presence of SVHCs in order to have better recycled material available for a circular economy. An additional goal is to inform consumers and the wider public on the presence of those substances. Transposition into the national legislation of the EU member states must be completed by July 2020.
Article 33(1) of the REACH Regulation defines that any supplier of an article containing a substance meeting the criteria …in a concentration above 0.1% weight by weight (w/w) shall provide the recipient of the article with sufficient information, available to the supplier, to allow safe use of the article including, as a minimum, the name of that substance.
Back in September 2019, ECHA published the detailed information requirements for the Substances of Concern In articles, as such or in complex objects (Products) database (SCIP).
The current ECHA proposal requests information which exceeds the scope of REACH Article 33.1.
This extension of the scope is not justified and has not been subject to an impact assessment, which would be standard procedure. This extension imposes obligations on article suppliers to provide information to ECHA such as article identifiers, whether a product has been produced within the EU, links to upstream suppliers, version of the Candidate List, concentration ranges and material categories.
Machinery manufacturers have been complying with REACH requirements for the last ten years, informing customers if a SVHC exceeds a concentration of 0.1% in the article. However, due to the newly created mandatory data fields, they must collect data from the full supply chain and report on millions of components. This extended procedure will cost significant amounts of time and money.
CECE, along with other industry voices, have requested ECHA and the EC limit the information requirements on the database to only the provisions of REACH Article 33.1.
Regarding timing, the database is still in its prototype testing period and it will not be completed before October 2020. Looking at the time schedule, less than half a year is allocated to manufacturers to start using the database. This is rather hasty. However, the EC is sticking to its plans and calling on the industry to implement the database within the legal deadline.
Apart from the mandatory requirements, the construction industry raises several questions that are crucial and need to be urgently answered by ECHA.
The notification mechanisms for complex articles with multi-source suppliers are still unclear and companies will need time to adapt to them. The construction equipment manufacturers have broad model ranges that may extend to thousands of types of products, including customised ones. Excessive duplication of identical submissions should therefore be avoided for complex products. Instead, an aggregated format is favourable.
The database will inform waste treatment operators, national authorities and consumers upon request on the presence of SVHCs as defined in the REACH Regulation.
A truly critical point in this matter is confidentiality of data. The industry and its representatives are deeply concerned that ECHA has not established a sound security policy to protect sensitive business data in relation to supply chain disclosure. This point must be clarified urgently before data is finally submitted to the database.
The European construction equipment industry, which includes numerous SMEs, is committed to assisting the development of a workable database, however, CECE asks ECHA to take these concerns seriously and revise the current structure.
This article first appeared in the April 2020 issue of Construction Europe magazine
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