Relevant for: Electrical & Electronics, Hardlines, Softlines, Toys and children's products
The European Commission (EC) has recently published Directive 2018/8511, an amendment to the Waste Framework Directive 2008/98/EC2 (WFD).
While the amendment focuses on the increased recovery rate of certain waste materials, affecting the current regulations on landfill waste3, packaging materials4 , and end-of-life vehicles (ELV), batteries and waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE)5 . It also closes the gap that the REACH regulation leaves out in dealing with waste.
From 5 January 2021, article suppliers will be required to submit information to the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) if their article wastes contain Substances of Very High Concern (SVHCs) above 0.1% by weight (w/w). This new requirement aims to facilitate information flow along the supply chain to the end of a product’s life-cycle. A database will be developed by ECHA by 5 January 2020 to assist with data collection and the information collected will be accessible to waste treatment operators, as well as consumers upon request.
Although the term “article” is not defined within the WFD, the requirement refers to the definition within the REACH Regulation which is “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”. Examples of articles include: clothing, footwear, toys, electrical appliances, furniture, etc.
It is important to note that the new obligation to notify under the WFD is not the same notification obligation6 under REACH. Notification under REACH is triggered when the concentration of an SVHC in an article is above 0.1% w/w and the total tonnage of the SVHC in all such articles is over 1 tonne per year, while notification under the WFD is triggered when the concentration of an SVHC in an article is above 0.1% w/w, which is the same condition as under REACH for an article supplier to communicate information to recipients (but not consumers) downstream along the supply chain.
The new notification obligation under WFD applies to all article suppliers, which includes the importers, article producers, distributors or other actors in the supply chain when placing an article on the EU market. There is no distinction between imported articles and those produced in the EU for this obligation.
The WFD sets up the legal framework for handling waste in the EU through proper waste management: prevention, re-use, and recycling of waste. This recent amendment of the WFD, which is based on the EC’s proposal on Circular Economy Package7 in December 2015, will provide a better interface between chemical, product and waste legislation.