What is REACH?

The REACH Regulation (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals) was published in 2006. The list of SVHC’s (Substances of Very High Concern) currently consists of 173 chemicals demonstrated to cause cancer, birth defects, and to have other toxic impacts. The regulation was considered largely not applicable to most electrotechnical products, even though many of the 173 chemicals are commonly used in electrotechnical products.

REACH requires reporting and safe handling information of SVHC’s above 0.1% by weight. Unlike RoHS, which prevents the legal importation and sale of products above the relevant thresholds, REACH is a reporting requirement. Unlike RoHS, which requires a request of documentation by “a reasoned request from a competent national authority”, REACH documentation must be available to practically anyone requesting it, including any customer who asks.

The applicability to electrotechnical products has changed due to a European Court of Justice ruling and subsequent official Guidance published in December, 2015. Until recently, the weight of SVHC’s was calculated as a percentage of weight of a completed product, such as a circuit board or television. The threshold was rarely reached in practice. The recent ruling now changes the definition of “article”, and the SVHC is measured as a percentage of the weight of an article such as a lithium battery.

REACH documentation provided to a customer must include the names chemicals present above the threshold, and where they occur in the product. Safe handling information must be included under circumstances specified in the Regulation.

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