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REACH: What is an 'article'?

The definition of an 'article' according to the REACH regulation and implications for the footwear industry.

by Martin Heels

In the final quarter of 2015, the European Court of Justice published its judgement to clarify the notification required for substances in articles. This judgement (case C-106/14) will have major implications for some products on the market in the EU, as there may be more than one component of the product that falls under the definition of an 'article'.

The legal obligations for articles under the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals regulation (REACH) require responses to consumer requests regarding whether a product contains substances of very high concern (SVHCs) within 45 days of receiving the request. These SVHCs can be found on the candidate list (which was most recently updated in December 2015) and this currently has 168 entries. An SVHC is deemed to be present if greater than 0.1 per cent of that substance is present based on the total weight of the article. However, there have been some discrepancies between EU member states as to what constitutes an article within a product. As a result, the case was brought before the European Court of Justice for clarification.

The REACH legislation defines an article as ‘an object which during production is given a special shape, surface or design which determines its function to a greater degree than its chemical composition’. The European Court of Justice ruling means that the 0.1 per cent threshold for notifying SVHCs in articles applies to each article incorporated as a component of a complex product, rather than to the entire product. So, for example, if a product comprises many individual parts, especially those that can be replaced or interchanged (for example, a removable footbed, laces or top-pieces), each individual part constitutes an article, rather than the footwear as a whole. The supply chain will need to be notified if one or more SVHCs are present above 0.1 per cent in any of those individual parts.

How can we help?

The chemistry laboratory at SATRA undertakes testing for SVHCs as a risk assessment-based approach. Rather than test for all 168 SVHCs, testing is only carried out to quantify those substances that are relevant to the product. In addition, screening testing is carried out to reduce the total number of tests required. Please contact for further details.

Publishing Data

This article was originally published on page 36 of the February 2016 issue of SATRA Bulletin.

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