IPC Concerned about ECHA’s Draft Guidance on Substances in Articles

On September 22, 2016, IPC submitted comments to the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) highlighting our concerns with the draft guidance on requirements for substances in articles, version 4.0.

In the comments, IPC highlights concerns that guidance is confusing and lengthy and suggests specific changes.

On July 27, 2016 ECHA published draft guidance on the application of REACH (Registration, Evaluation and Authorization of Chemicals) to substances in articles.

The court ruling directly affects the disclosures required of articles manufacturers. The new guidance addresses the EU Court of Justice ruling on September 10, 2015 on the that levels of substances of very high concern (SVHCs) must be calculate at the level of the “simple” article, not over the weight of the entire article as imported or as provided to the customer as stated in ECHA’s 2011 guidance.

A final guide is expected by the end of 2016 or early 2017 and the EU member states are planning a six- month enforcement pilot in early 2017.


  1. Posted October 5, 2016 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    I submit that IPC has underestimated its “concern” for the ECHA guidance. Once an article, always an article is fundamentally unmanageable and unscientific, and has significant and expensive impacts on electronics companies.

    While the supply chain is still lacking in its ability to keep up with RoHS Homogeneous Materials reporting, we at least have mature processes and IT systems to handle it, including IPC-1752A.

    While the IPC standard fully supports RoHS Homogeneous Materials and Substances, there is no standard I am aware of that truly manages the calculation of substance % at the Article level (whatever an article is, which is supposedly addressed in the ECHA guidance which is totally untenable). We need a revised standard that supports Article attributes, just like was what was required for substances in Homogeneous Materials.

    Nonsensically, an SVHC in an unformed material is not of concern to REACH, while the same exact material with a shape is. This makes no scientific or environmental sense whatsoever.

    If ECHA’s intent is to truly enforce limits on the 150+ SVHC’s, they should just adopt the RoHS definition. In fact we see RoHS 2019 including SVHC’s so that trend is already evident.

    • Fern Abrams
      Posted October 19, 2016 at 9:12 am | Permalink

      IPC comments on the ECHA guidance reflect the central position within the broad spectrum of opinions voiced by IPC members. I agree that there is still some lack of clarity as to what an article is, hence our comments to ECHA regarding a need for improving the guidance.

      Irrespective of opinions regarding the difficulty of implementing Once an Article Always an Article (OAAAA), it nonetheless is the law of the land in all EU member countries. While we may not agree with the decision of the EU Court of Justice, on the basis of science, our interpretation of REACH, the finding of the court is what matters, not our opinion. Regardless of what ends up in the final ECHA guidance, as made clear by ECHA and EU Commission staff, the ECHA guidance is merely that and has no weight of law.

      ECHA is empowered only to administer REACH. They are not empowered to change the law by exchanging OAAAA for RoHS definitions, nor are they an enforcement body. Enforcement of REACH is the job of the EU member states, however failure to enforce the law can result in sanctions of the member states by EU government.

      It is my understanding that IPC-1752, Materials Declaration Management, currently permits the inclusion of data necessary to comply with REACH as interpreted by the EU Court of Justice ruling referred to as OAAAA. Should you have suggestions regarding modification of IPC-1752, I encourage you to become a more active in the IPC 2-18b Materials Declaration Task Group which is responsible for IPC-1752.

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