Though REACH has no substantial upcoming changes in 2020, new EU legislation will have major impacts on how automotive companies that import to the European Union report chemicals.
In July 2018, the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) revised the Waste Framework Directive. As a result, ECHA will develop a database for companies to record the presence of hazardous chemicals in articles, to be accessible to waste treatment operators and consumers. Any company that produces, imports or sells articles into the European Union that contain Candidate List substances at greater than 0.1% concentration must input its chemicals into the database by the end of 2020.
While the intended consequences of this effort will directly impact the European Union member states as the EU works toward a circular economy — its requirements extend to all exporters into the EU, including North American automotive companies.
There is much left to be decided and finalized by the EU for its revised Waste Framework Directive, such as how to fund this database, what the database’s framework will become, and more.
Expect to Comply 100 Percent
The requirement to report hazardous — or Candidate List — substances should be nothing new for your North American automotive company. Yet there has not been any comprehensive mechanism for accountability in the past that held companies to this responsibility.
Now with the upcoming Waste Framework Directive database, automotive companies and many other industries will have their Candidate List substances easily accessible and on display to the public. As such there will be greater pressure and enforcement of this directive, pushing many companies that have not complied completely in the past to do so in 2020.
Prepare for Greater Transparency as Consumers Apply More Pressure
The pressure from consumers does not stop at simply making Candidate List substances available on the WFD database either. Companies in the European Union will face pushback from consumers, especially regarding the REACH Article 33.2 “Right to Know” consumer request initiative. Per this law, EU companies that receive a Right to Know request must provide information about their substances of very high concern within 45 days of the request.
North American companies are not legally obliged to comply with these requests, though they may receive them from consumers, and it would be an ill branding move to ignore such requests. Likewise, many EU companies that receive these requests will turn to their supply chains from around the world to provide the relevant information in a timely manner. Over the next five to 10 years, consumer pushback and responsibility will only continue to increase. Eventually a result of this will be a drive toward finding alternatives to some hazardous substances.
Start Discussing Your Company’s Organizational Framework to Comply
Until the database becomes more than a prototype, it will be hard to solidify organizational plans for compliance by the end of 2020. But if an organization can begin to identify those who will lead this compliance effort and other key stakeholders to be involved, things will be better streamlined when more details become available and 2020 is upon us. Although the database does not yet exist, we are certain the undertaking will be extensive and comprehensive, with a firm due date attached.
There is much left to learn about the new Waste Framework Directive and how it will affect the automotive industry and others in 2020 and beyond. To receive our monthly updates as we follow its progress and effects to chemical reporting, please subscribe by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.