REACH regulations require, among other things, to generate a set of standard information on the composition and physical, chemical, toxicological, and ecotoxicological properties of all chemical substances manufactured or imported in the EU. This general registration requirement applies to any chemical substance, unless a specific exemption applies. However, the REACH regulation guarantees the traceability of chemical data throughout the supply chain until the substance is included in the product and classified as an "article" chemical data. Traceability is even more decisively stopped when materials are classified as "waste". This may hinder the recycling of waste, because the available composition data is essential for demonstrating the environmental impact and product quality of waste-based materials. It is of great significance.
From the perspective of the operation of the CE market and the safety of recycled materials, the lack of traceability is an obvious problem. If the relevant substances are not detected in the material recycling process, the recycled materials may have a serious impact on human health and the environment. Therefore, when using secondary materials, the risks posed by these substances cannot be properly managed. The starting point of the material recycling that plays a role Yes, waste can be returned to the production process and commercialized in a safe manner. This requires that the product does not contain related substances, or, if there are, these substances must be identified and the use of materials must be supervised to prevent adverse effects. A similar logic applies to normal non-waste materials and products, and is implemented through applicable chemical legislation (such as REACH regulations).
Due to the source, composition, and possible contamination of the waste, its holders may have limited information on recycled materials or objects. At the same time, operators who use the original raw materials usually have a good understanding of the composition of the raw materials they use. The unknown composition of waste-based materials has caused ambiguity in the legislative framework for the use of materials. The committee set a goal in the CE communication that all actors in the material life cycle should be able to obtain sufficient information about the chemical composition of the material.
The committee has identified four basic control strategies that can be used to track substances of concern. First, the EU can formulate a general requirement that requires companies to track all substances of concern before a set date. Second, the new legislation can be based on tracking requirements for specific industries. Third, it is possible to track matters of concern voluntarily. Fourth, we can analyze the substances of interest from waste and recycled materials instead of tracking them in the flow of substances.
Tracking all substances of concern on a specific date will naturally provide multiple benefits to ensure safe material recycling. However, this also requires a lot of data collection and storage, and involves a lot of administrative costs. The other extreme is to abandon the idea of tracking substances of interest and rely on the analysis of waste and materials recycled from waste. Purely voluntary measures are hardly enough to ensure the protection of human health and the environment from the risks posed by substances of concern in the material cycle. On the other hand, the requirement to exclude substances of concern from recycled materials will greatly increase the cost of waste recycling, thus actually hindering the flow of many substances.
The recent judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) in Verlezza and other cases illustrates the practical difficulties associated with analyzing hazardous materials from waste streams. The judgment involves the burden of proof regarding the hazardous classification of waste. CJEU ruled that the waste holder must, under normal circumstances, determine the composition of the garbage and determine that the hazardous substances are found to be wasteful. The provisions of the EU legislation shall not be interpreted as "the waste holder must refute the presumption that the waste is dangerous. However, CJEU pointed out that in practice it may not be possible to determine the presence of hazardous substances or evaluate the hazardous nature of the waste. In this case, in accordance with the precautionary principle, the waste should be presumed to be hazardous.