SCIP database signals progress towards answering BIR’s call

  • 13 March 2020
  • Legislation

Since around the year 2000, BIR has been explaining to legislators about the difficulties recyclers face in receiving some end-of-life goods - in effect, wastes containing substances of concern which, above prescribed levels, should not be recycled and instead should be irreversibly transformed or destroyed.

The so-called chemicals/waste interface has uncovered many difficulties for recyclers, including: not knowing where to look for restricted chemicals; not having practical and economic test methods; not having separation technologies; and bearing the cost of environmentally sound disposal of legacy substances and substances that must not be recycled.

For almost two decades, BIR has been calling for more information from manufacturers, not least to encourage them to seek alternatives to the use of substances of concern so that they no longer incorporate them into their products. Now, the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) has responded by establishing its so-called SCIP database relating to Substances of Concern In articles as such or in complex objects (Products) under the Waste Framework Directive.

The SCIP database ensures that information on articles containing substances of very high concern (SVHCs) is available throughout the whole lifecycle of products and materials, including at the waste stage. The information in the database is then made available to waste operators and consumers.

From January 5 2021, companies will need to submit SCIP notifications to the ECHA if the articles they place on the EU market contain SVHCs in concentrations above 0.1% weight by weight. Companies will be able to submit data as early as late 2020 when the final database is to be launched. The aim is to promote the substitution of hazardous chemicals and a transition towards a safer circular economy.

Companies will need to submit:

  • information to identify the article;
  • the name, concentration range and location of the SVHC in the article; and
  • other information on its safe use.

The SCIP prototype database is already up and running, according to the ECHA. This prototype allows companies to familiarize themselves with the database and to test how to submit their SCIP notifications. Users can submit test data and provide feedback to the ECHA to help the organization to further improve the final version. All submitted test data will be deleted before the launch. Companies can now start to test the ECHA’s SCIP database of products containing Candidate List SVHCs.

Bjorn Hansen, the ECHA’s Executive Director, says: “Tracking harmful chemicals is the key for moving towards a more sustainable circular economy. All materials are made of chemicals and we need to make sure we know which products contain harmful chemicals before they are recycled. Our upcoming database will help us to make products safer.”

Such data will be of interest to recyclers around the world faced with end-of-life goods containing SVHCs.

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