Last week, the European Union Advocate-General to the Court of Justice issued an opinion on the debate regarding the concept of an “article” under the Registration, Evaluation and Authorization of Chemicals (REACH) regulation. The Advocate-General’s opinion stated that the threshold for registration requirements applies to the whole article, not at the level of each individual component (part). However, for SVHC (substances of very high concern) notification requirements, the Advocate-General’s opinion stated that the SVHC notification requirements apply to individual components. If any component within a larger article contains an SVHC above the 0.1% threshold, a company must comply with the notification requirements.
According to the Advocate-General, a component is an article if, once integrated, it retains a shape, surface or design of its own. REACH defines an article as “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.” The Advocate-General reasoned that this definition does not distinguish between stand-alone articles and articles integrated in a bigger article and an article does not lose its function once it is integrated in a bigger one, though that function might change. The only criteria to be taken into account is whether the product has a shape, surface or design which is more relevant than its chemical composition.
Member States have had differing interpretations of an article, in particular how reporting threshold requirements apply to complex articles, such as a computer. The European Commission and most Member State authorities concluded that the threshold applies at the level of the whole article, but seven Member States, including France and Germany, had decided to apply the threshold at the level of each individual component, in the case of a laptop, the screen, plastic case, capacitor, integrated circuit, etc.
The EU Court of Justice is expected to release its judgment in the coming months, which will be the final ruling on the issue.
IPC will keep you informed of any updates on the final ruling.