The ECHA has published version 4.0 of its Guidance on requirements for substances in articles as a response to a decision of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in September 2015. At that time, the court decided that the information requirements for substances of very high concern (SVHC) in articles according to Article 7 Sections 2 and 33 of REACH did not relate to the product sold or bought, but to all the parts used in a composite product, such as a bicycle or automobile. We reported on the decision and its background in our blog entry: SVHC: Court of Justice of the European Union Contradicts the ECHA.
In an overview published in REACH plus (German only), legal expert Hartmut Scheidmann highlighted the weaknesses of the update guidance. For example, the authors use a new term, “complex objects.” The term describes an article that consists of several subassemblies. Yet, as Scheidmann criticizes, REACH itself uses only the term “article.” Legally, says Scheidmann, the new term opens the door to misunderstandings. In Chapter 5 and Appendix 5, the authors of the document also speak of the obligations of the purchasers of articles to inform themselves about the presence and contents of SVHC. But as Scheidmann points out, Article 33 of REACH states that the vendor must proactively supply this information. In his conclusions, he writes that the guidance fails to live up to legal stipulations and to clarify many open questions. Nevertheless, he adds, companies are on the safest side when they adhere to the guidance despite all its weaknesses.
You can read the press release issued by the ECHA announcing the publication of the guidance here.
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