Published: 15 January, 2020
An ECHA FORUM pilot enforcement project, targeting hazardous substances of very high concern (SVHCs) in consumer goods sold on the European market, has uncovered high levels of information communication non-compliance.
SVHCs are substances proposed for authorisation for use in the European Union under EU REACH regulations. Downstream users placing product onto the market within the EU have a regulatory obligation to provide information, including safe handling and use, on SVHCs containing goods upon supply, and free of charge to a consumer within 45 days upon request.
The enforcement pilot project focussed on consumer goods likely to contain SVHCs, with footwear, clothing, electronics and home furnishing textiles were among the items checked.
SVHCs at > 0.1% w/w (threshold to trigger Article 33 of REACH), were found in 84 (12%) of the products, mainly in soft plastics and foams including sports equipment such as yoga mats and hockey masks. Phthalates comprised the majority (57%) of SVHC-containing articles, with bis(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) most present. Short-chain chloroparaffins (SCCPs), azodicarbonamide (ADCA) and lead were also commonly found.
For the products with >1% SVHCs, business-to-consumer suppliers were non-compliant with information dissemination obligations in almost 90% of cases, and business to consumer suppliers in 56% of cases. Many companies did not have information on SVHCs within their products available. The majority of companies relied on information on SHVCs in their products from their suppliers, with less than 10% seeking expert advice. Dis-functional flows of information down the supply chain on hazardous substances are attributable to the high levels of non-compliance.
The report includes the audit questionnaire, useful to companies for which SVHC compliance may apply, and lists recommendations for industry, national helpdesks and enforcement agencies, with the commencement of a wider-scale enforcement project, called for.
Sam Allan, Associate Hazard Communication Consultant, Yordas Group