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Producer responsibility

What is producer responsibility?

Producer responsibility means that producers of any type of product thoroughly check and ensure that no environmental or health problems arise from the production, use and disposal of their products.

Producer responsibility should have the aim to minimise the adverse effects of a product by carefully selecting raw materials, designing products so they can be easily recycled or reused and to communicate what the users should consider when using and disposing of the product.

Producer responsibility in the context of chemicals means that the producers check and ensure that no risks occur from substances used as such, in mixtures and in articles.

How to fulfil the producer responsibility?

In order to take your producer responsibility, it is essential that you have all necessary information to check, if the substances in your articles could cause a risk or a problem for humans or the environment. This means you need to know

  • Which hazardous substances are contained in your article,
  • How and where exactly in the article they are included and
  • If humans or the environment could come in contact with these substances in a way and dose that would be harmful to them.

Your producer responsibility extends beyond the obligations of REACH because you should not only look for and communicate on the candidate substances but at all substances in your article. This is also an implementation of the requirement for “general product safety” for humans under the product safety legislation.

If you communicate information on the substances in your article, you can also support them in the implementation of their obligations regarding workers protection and installation related permits and emission limit values.

Unfortunately, communication on hazardous substances does not exist on regulatory basis when they are included in articles, apart from the implementation of REACH Article 33. Therefore, you don’t have this information, unless you start communication with your suppliers.

An effective and detailed communication on the content of hazardous substances in specific articles (parts) and on how they are used would provide important support to the placers on the market of articles.

If the producer responsibility is taken seriously, an assessment of safety of the specific article is needed and this requires detailed base data rather than aggregated information on conditions of use and risk management measures.

Who needs which information?

The following overview should help you to understand which information is helpful to communicate and for which purpose your customers could use it.

Table : General needs for information guiding the activities for article producers

Information needs of article producers
Checking Art. 33 and 7(2) Name of candidate substance, concentration in article and total amount of candidate substance in (all types of) articles Information if a use is already registered
Communicating under Art. 33 Name of candidate substance, conditions of use and risk management measures if needed to ensure that no risks occur from article processing, service life and waste stage
Information supporting workers protection Human health hazards, DNELs/DMELs*, vapour pressure Article (part) in which hazardous substance** is contained, concentration and inclusion in matrix / containment Processes to avoid, such as abrasive, high temperature processing RMMs to reduce emissions and exposures
Information supporting environmental protection Environmental hazards, PNECs***, water solubility, vapour pressure (persistence, LogKow) Article (part) in which the hazardous substance is contained, concentration and type of inclusion in matrix / containment Processes to avoid (e.g. abrasive, high temperature, water contact) RMMs to reduce emissions and exposures
(Identification of) safe disposal options Name and concentration of the hazardous substance in specific article (parts / components / final complex product ) Conditions in waste treatment that could cause risks (e.g. temperature, abrasive…) Waste code, possible limitations on reuse and recycling of production wastes, disposal options to avoid
Information to support producer responsibility Substance name, concentration in specific articles (parts of the final product), type of inclusion in matrix / containment Human health and environmental hazards, DNELs/DMELs, PNECS, vapour pressure, water solubility, diffusion / migration rates User groups (children, vulnerable populations) and conditions (temperature, water contact, indoor / outdoor etc.) to avoid recommended RMMs to reduce emissions and exposures

* DNEL = Derived No Effect Level = substance concentration or dose below which humans should not be adversely affected; DMEL = Derived Minimal Effect Level = substance concentration or dose below which the risk to develop cancer is regarded as tolerable under REACH
** Since this communication is not only on candidate substances but helpful for any type of hazardous substances, here and in the following the term hazardous substance is used.
*** PNEC = Predicted No Effect Concentration = substance concentration in the environment, below which no effect is expected to occur.

Consumers need less information. Their information needs are specified in the following table:

Information needs of consumers
Information on safe use Conditions to avoid (temperature, outdoor / indoor etc.) and excluded user groups (e.g. children)
Information on safe disposal How to discard the EoL product: (exclusion of general) recycling, specific collection or municipal waste
Information on candidate substance / SVHC Explanation on what the content of the candidate substance in articles means for them in practice. This could regard explanation of what effects could be caused, why the exposure is regarded as low enough for the article to pose no risks, alternatives and strategies of the producer to substitute the SVHC etc.