Skip the SCIP: easing of requirements for manufacturers, distributors and assemblers
SCIP notification as of January 2021
As of 5 January 2021, substances of very high concern (SVHCs) must be registered in the SCIP database if they appear in a product in concentrations of 0.1 percent weight-by-weight or higher. The ECHA has already received more than 50,000 notifications (PDF) since the SCIP database went online on 28 October 2020.
The object of the SCIP database is to collect and provide information about these substances over the whole life cycle of a product. The duty to submit notifications to the SCIP database applies to all companies (manufacturers, importers, distributors and other operators (suppliers), cf. Article 3 of the REACH Regulation) which supply such products to the EU market. This system allows the SCIP database to collect information relating to the use of SVHCs all along the supply chain. Such a method is also practiced e.g. in the automotive industry, through the (voluntary) International Material Data System (IMDS) (only in German).
Simplified SCIP Notification
Product manufacturers and importers are required to provide a full SCIP notification. But distributors which merely buy such a product and then sell the exact same product are not required to submit a new and independent dossier to the ECHA. Instead, they need only make reference to the supplier's notification by means of a Simplified SCIP Notification (SSN). Distributors are also not required to update their SCIP entry, as this requirement also falls to the product manufacturer or importer.
Similarly, the requirements for manufacturers and assemblers may also be eased by the option of making reference to existing SCIP notifications ("referencing"). This applies in situations in which an article for which a notification is required is part of a more complex (final) product but the physical form and composition of the constituent article are unchanged. In such cases, the manufacturer and assembler are still required to submit a SCIP notification for the final product. But in that notification, they can simply make reference to the SCIP numbers assigned for the individual articles for which notifications have already been submitted.
Impact on the formulation of contracts in the supply chain and recommended actions
Compiling the relevant information and monitoring compliance within the supply chain may be expensive and could take some time. Communication between the various operators is therefore of essential importance. Violations of the notification requirements involve enormous risks, ranging from fines to product recalls.
These risks should be mitigated by contractual means, if possible. After all, even in the cases explained above in which notification requirements are eased, operators are still responsible for verifying the accuracy of information provided by upstream market operators. A contractual clause providing for a limitation of liability or indemnification may limit the possible financial consequences, at the very least.
Moreover, there is no legal claim to transfer of the information which manufacturers, assemblers or distributors would require in order to verify accuracy or take advantage of cases where notification requirements are eased. Upstream market operators can only be required to do so by a contractual clause to this effect.
Accordingly, the duty to submit notifications to the SCIP database should be taken as an occasion to examine not only a company's products but also its contractual relationships in the supply chain.