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The revised Waste Framework Directive 2008/98/EC, which entered into force in July 2018, provided a role for ECHA to establish and maintain a database with information on substances of concern in articles, as such or in complex objects (products), named as “SCIP database”.
The information will be submitted by companies supplying articles containing SVHCs on the Candidate List placed on the EU market. The SCIP database will ensure that this information is available throughout the whole lifecycle of articles and materials, including at the waste stage.
The three main objectives of the SCIP database to support the circular economy are the following:
1. Decrease the generation of waste containing hazardous substances by supporting the substitution of substances of concern in articles placed on the EU market.
2. Make information available to further improve waste treatment operations.
3. Allow authorities to monitor the use of substances of concern in articles and initiate appropriate actions over the whole lifecycle of articles, including at their waste stage.
The primary goal remains the substitution of the Candidate List substances of very high concern in articles with safer alternatives, and thus preventing the generation of waste containing those hazardous substances.
The information available in the SCIP database will support waste operators to improve their waste separation and recycling techniques and processes over time, based on the increased knowledge of which substances are present in which articles. Waste operators do not currently have sufficient information about hazardous substances in the waste they are processing –leading, in the worst case– to such substances being incorporated in recycled materials. The database aims to bridge the current gap in the information flow.
The increased transparency will also benefit consumers and give them the opportunity to make better informed purchase decisions, as well as give them transparent information on safe use and disposal advice for articles on the EU market. Finally, improved knowledge of the presence and use of substances of concern will benefit authorities in their regulatory work.
Ultimately, the database should facilitate the transition to a more sustainable material management by increasing the efficiency of resource use, and ensuring waste is valued as a resource.
The obligation covers all articles placed on the EU market containing a substance of very high concern on the Candidate List in a concentration above 0.1% w/w.
Substances fulfilling one or more of the criteria defined in REACH Article 57 can be identified as Substances of Very High Concern (SVHCs) and put on the Candidate List for authorisation. New substances are regularly added to the Candidate List, usually twice a year.
The obligation applies to any article as such or in a complex object, i.e. an object made up of more than one article, because articles that are assembled or joined together remain articles. Furthermore, an import is deemed to be ‘placing on the market’, thus any imported article into the EU is covered by the obligation, including any supply via internet sales that involve an import.
The obligation covers articles, as such or in complex objects, as they are supplied, including “spare parts”. Articles or complex objects that are repaired, provided that they are not supplied, are not covered by the legal duty.
Information on articles supplied directly and exclusively to consumers, without the participation of a distributor or other actor in the supply chain, will not be included in the SCIP database, as any direct supply to consumers is not covered by the legal obligation.
Where necessary, in the interests of defence, Member States may allow for exemptions from the REACH Regulation in specific cases for certain substances on their own, in a mixture or in an article (Article 2(3) of the REACH Regulation).
Therefore, in case a Member State considers that the reporting obligations are detrimental to its national interests in the area of defence, then a Member State may choose to invoke this article to provide a specific exemption from the obligation of Article 33(1) of REACH, and to Article 9(1)(i) of the WFD respectfully. Furthermore, Member States are not obliged to supply information the disclosure of which they consider to be contrary to the essential interests of its security (Article 346 TFEU1).
1 Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.
(source: Commission non-paper on the implementation of articles 9(1)(i) and 9(2) of the revised Waste Framework Directive 2008/98/EC, distributed to the CARACAL and Waste Expert Group in June 2019, ref. Ares(2019)3936110).
Duty holders only need to provide information on those articles which contain Candidate List substances. The vast majority of articles on the EU market do not contain them.
Substitution remains the overall goal: the most hazardous substances should be phased out over time.
The information required for the SCIP database must already be communicated throughout the supply chain under REACH Article 33(1). The SCIP database therefore complements the existing communication and notification obligations for Candidate List substances in articles under Articles 33 and 7(2) of REACH, and should reinforce compliance with them .
ECHA is exploring the possibility of using the information already submitted by the upstream supplier to allow duty holders to refer to each other’s notifications in case it concerns the same article, thereby reducing administrative burden and avoiding duplications.
ECHA will also provide for a system-to-system submission solution which will automate the submission process for these articles. Companies will be able to connect their supply chain tracking tools to ECHA’s database to set up automated submission procedures and avoid manual work.
Since the beginning of the project, ECHA has been in contact with several industry sectors and supply chain communication-tool providers to understand the needs and existing practices.