The European Union Court of Justice on Clothes Containing Substances of Very High Concern


EU court justiceOn 10 September 2015, the Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ) decided that the notification and information obligations relating to SVHC substances (substances of very high concern) for producers, importers and/or suppliers that are necessary for articles under certain conditions within the framework of the REACh regulation are valid for all individual articles that are components of a complex whole product (entire article) and that the SVHC threshold value of 0.1 % by weight and the calculation of a found SVHC substance refer to the examined single article and not to the entire article.

In accordance with the European REACh regulation (EC) no. 1907/2006, there is an obligation for all actors (any person who provides an article for a third party) throughout the entire supply chain to provide information in the case of articles for which the threshold value of 0.1 percent by weight (= 1000 mg/kg) is exceeded for SVHC candidate substances and, if requested, to also provide information for consumers (REACh: Article 33). Depending on the total annual production or the use of a SVHC substance (> 1 tonne/year: referred to all articles per producer or importer) further steps such as registration for this specific use (REACh: Article 7(1)) or notification (REACh: Article 7(2)) to the ECHA (European Chemicals Agency) may be necessary for producers or importers.

With regard to the threshold value of 0.1% for the SVHC substances, there have, for a long time, been differences of opinion between different EU member states (among others Germany, France, Denmark and Austria) on the one side and the European Commission and the ECHA on the other (as a quasi-controversial issue) on the interpretation and application of whether the concentration of a SVHC substance found in a component (single article on an entire article) should refer to and be calculated for the single component or the entire article (e.g. clothing = entire article). Depending on the decision, there are of course serious differences in the result.

With this decision, the Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ) has now clarified matters and decided that the found concentration of a SVHC substance must refer to and be calculated for the examined single component (single article) and not to the entire article (e.g. clothing) to which it belongs.