Since early 2021, companies in the EU have been obligated to notify the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) of any articles they supply containing Substances of Very High Concern (SVHCs) (FPF reported). SVHCs are hazardous chemicals that have been categorized under the EU REACH regulation (EC 1907/2006) with the intention of reducing their use, and with a possible phase-out. On September 14, 2021, ECHA published the data within its SCIP database containing notification information from over 6000 companies concerning over 4 million products containing SVHCs. The database is meant as a resource for consumers to learn of the chemicals in products and safe product use, and for waste operators “to increase re-use of articles and further develop recycling processes.”
Under the EU’s Waste Framework Directive (2008/98/EC), companies are required to inform ECHA of any article they supply that contains more than 0.1% by weight of SVHCs (corresponding to 1000 ppm, or 1g per kg of the final article) (FPF reported). Some of the 4 million product notifications within the database are duplicates from cases where the same article is produced by multiple suppliers within the EU. ECHA does not have an estimate for the number of unique articles within the database.
The public can now search the new ECHA SCIP database by article name, product category, type of material it is composed of, or chemical name. ECHA has published a video to explain how to search the database but the sheer size of it can slow the search operations. There are some limitations in search functions. When searching under “Article category”, one cannot select all “prepared foodstuffs” but must instead work through the menu to a specific type of prepared foodstuff. For example, to get to one level of the “article category” that is searchable the user must click “prepared foodstuffs,” “Beverages, spirits, and vinegar,” and “Waters not containing added sugar,” before the subset “mineral waters and aerated waters” has a checkbox to make it searchable. The article category search box, where one could write their category search term, accepts only one word at a time. Searching by material type is similarly limited to well-classified subsets, however, the “article identity” or product name search bar is more flexible.
The Swedish Chemicals Agency (KEMI) also recently launched a project with the Swedish Intellectual Property Office to use artificial intelligence to automatically identify potentially hazardous chemicals in patent information. By identifying the chemicals early in the design process, the two organizations aim to help companies be more proactive about chemical safety in consumer products. The pilot project is running through December 2021.
ECHA (September 14, 2021). “Know more about hazardous chemicals in products – SCIP data published.”
ECHA (September 14, 2021). “SCIP Database.”
Leigh Stringer (September 16, 2021). “EU Scip data portal ‘promising but needs refining’, say NGOs.” Chemical Watch
KEMI (September 7, 2021). “Non-toxic from the outset thanks to AI-powered search of patent information.”