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EU traceability of substances in articles: supply chain communication challenges and the perspective of full material declaration (FMD)

Julian Schenten, Martin Führ and Leonie Lennartz

elni Review 2018, Issue 2, pp. 32-38.

Companies producing or importing articles (or parts thereof) as well as retailers are facing new challenges coming from societal demands and expectations directed at transparency of (problematic) substances in articles (SiA), and the overall “sustainability” of supply chain operations. Legislation on chemicals in the EU (e.g., REACH) and beyond stipulating legal SiA requirements reflect these developments. In addition, with a view to eliminating problematic substances in material circles, the recently amended Waste Framework Directive requires, from January 2021 on, companies placing articles on the European Economic Area (EEA) market to report to authorities the presence of substances of very high concern (SVHC) above a certain threshold in such articles. ´
Chemical compliance management is not part of the core business for many companies. Many actors perceive related challenges as an overwhelming task. IT-based solutions offer opportunities to establish a systematic approach to transparency and traceability of SiA within complex global supply chains. In order to “be prepared” for future legislation, the long-term vision of a Full Material Declaration (FMD) is a promising approach. This way, firms can meet their present requirements from law as well as from sectoral or company specifications, and can prepare for future requirements. 
This article compares supply chain communication requirements and needs on the one hand and actual practice on the other in order to subsequently identify the respective delta. The article also introduces FMD as a strategy to overcome the delta and shows development perspectives for existing approaches. Finally, after drawing conclusions, the article formulates recommendations for EU policies.

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