The Substances of Concern In articles, as such or in complex objects (Products) (SCIP) database was announced in the Spring of 2018, but remains relatively unknown outside of compliance circles. There is still much uncertainty surrounding the database and the directive that mandated its creation, the European Union (EU) Waste Framework Directive (WFD). That uncertainty is somewhat ironic considering the database is a significant step toward increased transparency in regulatory compliance.

SCIP & EU Regulation

It is easy to think of the SCIP database as a regulation in and of itself, however, it was mandated in 2018 by the revised EU WFD. Companies manufacturing, importing, or distributing into the EU have legal requirements to report to the SCIP database by January 5, 2021. The enforcement of these requirements is largely held to be deployed under the EU Market Surveillance Regulation (MSR). The EU has signaled a digital transformation with regard to its regulations, including how those regulations are enforced. A €750 billion COVID-19 recovery package designated that at least 20 percent of the funds must be used to promote the adoption of technology across the EU. More funds were directed to be used for industrial stability, sustainability, and enforcement.

The intention behind the database is to ensure information on articles containing SVHCs is made available throughout the whole lifecycle of products and materials. As such, waste operators, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and consumers will be able to use a public-facing portal to search the database as of February 2021. While non-compliant companies will be at risk of operational and financial harm such as product recalls or heavy fines, the transparency this function affords could result in reputational damage. Compliance may not be a balm to soothe this risk either, as brands with a large number of SVHCs in their supply chains, although compliant with the regulation, may be viewed unfavorably by consumers or interest groups.

The phasing out of harmful substances is a main goal of several EU regulations. These have been targeted to use a single assessment method, as defined in the EU Chemical Sustainability Strategy. The strategy is part of the EU Green Deal, a comprehensive commitment to eliminate net greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. It proposes a new method for identifying SVHCs, enhanced enforcement, and promotes moving away from hazardous materials.

Think you have SCIP database requirements? Visit the SCIP Database Registration Center for downloadable tools, a comprehensive FAQ, and a free submission service for qualifying companies.

Visit the SCIP Registration Center

Regulations Behind the Curtain

The public nature of the SCIP database is a departure from traditional regulatory enforcement, where agencies often work in tandem with non-compliant companies to find alternatives to restricted substances in the supply chain. While effective, this approach often made it difficult to know when violations had occurred and by whom. The searchable database could be a motivator for companies to phase out SVHCs from their production to avoid scrutiny.

This shift could be a response to the growing public attention given to climate change, waste management, and corporate irresponsibility. In 2019, the Green Party beat expectations and became the fourth largest party, earning an influential role in a divided EU parliament. This paved the way for the aforementioned Green Deal and subsequent legislation.

This influence can also be seen by the steadfast insistence of the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) and European Commission to implement the SCIP database despite a global pandemic and industry opposition.

Shared Regulatory Data

The SCIP database is not the only substantial change to the EU regulatory landscape, as the EU MSR comes into force in 2021. The legislation harmonizes enforcement processes across member states and establishes new processes, tools, and training to improve collaboration and action across the EU.

Previously, although EU market access requirements were uniform, enforcement could vary based on where a regulatory infraction occurred. This regulation brings more uniformity, likely resulting in stiffer penalties and more robust enforcement.

How Submitting SCIP Reports Helps Your Company

Just as the SCIP database makes non-compliance searchable and damaging, compliance will now be visible and empowering. The adoption of responsible business practices, such as open disclosure or environmental sustainability, will strengthen brand image.

Companies around the world are shifting their marketing attention to rebrand as environmental stewards. The legally required SCIP submission will become a litmus test to separate green companies from greedy ones.

How Assent Can Help

The SCIP database requires complex data sets for each article containing SVHCs above threshold, presenting a substantial data burden to companies. Assent provides a cloud-based software as a service (SaaS) solution that manages SCIP requirements from data collection to the final submission. To learn more, contact us.

Dr. Raj Takhar
Regulatory & Sustainability Expert, Product Sustainability

Raj helps companies meet their product compliance challenges in an ever-changing regulatory landscape. He specializes in product compliance, chemical reporting, and program implementation in Europe.

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