Our regulatory subject matter experts help a range of stakeholders solve compelling regulatory challenges associated with supply chain data management. We compile their insights to help educate compliance professionals through content, webinars, and events. Assent’s experts also provide advice directly to clients. Here are the top five questions our Regulatory team has responded to over the past month.
Question: As part of our due diligence for the European Union (EU) Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) Directive, my company uses a classification system that treats compliance status as a binary yes or no field. How should we treat parts that are compliant by exemption, but would be non-compliant without the exemption? Should we simply classify and declare them like any other compliant part?
Steven Andrews: I would recommend caution with this sort of declaration. If a component or part is compliant by exemption, the declaration should reference the particular exemption(s). This is important because the use of the restricted substance is only allowed within the defined limits of the exemption at the “homogenous material” level. Referring to the particular exemption in the declaration also helps ensure the exemption has not been amended or deleted through a specific or generic “sunset” date. It is also important to note many exemptions are related to the end use of a product, therefore many would not be applicable to components, parts, or materials.
Question: Do you have any advice for scoping our supplier list for conflict minerals compliance? My company isn’t sure where to start.
Jared Connors: Scoping is fairly simple, but many companies find it daunting due to the volume of suppliers and/or a lack of data. Every company is different, so it’s impossible to give specific instructions. I can offer some general suggestions for an approach I’ve often seen used successfully — just remember to consider how well this or any scoping process will work with your company and your specific situation.
In many cases, a good scoping method is to conduct an engineering assessment on each of your commodity types to determine which could contain tin, tungsten, tantalum, and gold (3TGs) as well as cobalt if you are also including that mineral in your program. If your analysis suggests a commodity type could contain one of these minerals, then include all of that commodity’s active suppliers in your communications and data requests. Record and eliminate any suppliers from your campaign who respond with documentation showing their products do not contain 3TGs.
If you have a large number of suppliers, you may want to conduct a series of engagements over time rather than attempting to reach all in-scope suppliers at once. However, some customers may balk at this approach and instead expect across-the-board data to be available. In these situations, it may be a good idea to also consider prioritization based on spending. After the original material analysis, use spending analysis to focus on suppliers whose products most strongly impact key customer products and/or correlate to the largest revenue volume. Over time you’ll want to communicate with all of your suppliers whose products could contain 3TGs — but if your supplier list is too long to tackle at once, this approach may help you prioritize until you have reached the point where you can successfully survey all relevant suppliers each year.
Question: My company sometimes buys specific parts from brokers, especially when the parts are no longer manufactured and are difficult to find through our standard distributors. These brokers are generally unhelpful when we send them informational requests for the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) Regulation, the EU RoHS Directive, and Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 (Proposition 65) compliance. Their explanation is that the parts we purchase from them have often not been produced for several years, so no up-to-date compliance information exists.
How should we handle these cases? Is testing necessary? Should we be requesting this information at all if the parts are obsolete?
James Calder: Your company should continue requesting compliance information on obsolete parts. If the supplier or manufacturer has full composition data, they may be able to use this to provide updated compliance information. If the supplier or manufacturer is unable to evaluate composition information, ideally they would do their own testing or risk assessment to support a request from their customer (you). If they also refuse to do this, it’s up to you to perform risk assessment and/or testing. As always, ensure this process is carefully considered and documented. Compliance determination is especially important for obsolete parts, particularly if a part is crucial for existing or future products.
Question: Should my company be marking integrated circuits with the Conformité Européenne (CE) marking to demonstrate compliance with the EU RoHS Directive?
Steve Andrews: The simple answer is no. Integrated circuits are meant to be incorporated within final finished products or equipment. The CE marking should be applied to those final products, not to their components or sub-assemblies. (See the European Commission’s RoHS 2 FAQ Guidance Document, Q8.5.)
Question: My company has a robust due diligence program based on the Aerospace and Defence Declarable Substance List (AD-DSL). We believe substances from the REACH Substances of Very High Concern (SVHC) and Annex XIV lists should already be captured in our AD-DSL surveys. Is there any reason we should have to campaign separately for the SVHC or Annex XIV substance compliance information?
Raj Takhar: While the AD-DSL does contain substances from the REACH SVHC and Annex XIV (Authorisation) lists, the REACH Candidate List of SVHCs is updated twice annually, while the AD-DSL is only updated approximately every 12 months.
Given the differences in update frequency, the AD-DSL should be compared to the latest official EU REACH SVHC and Annex XIV lists prior to making an assumption that these substances are also covered in a given release of the AD-DSL.
For more questions and answers, visit the last edition of Assent’s Ask the Experts blog.
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