Launched in 2017, AskREACH is a European project which aims to support consumers and companies to apply the "right to know" about substances of very high concern (SVHC) contained in consumer products. The European REACH regulation on the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals stipulates in Article 33.2 that suppliers are required to provide information on the presence of SVHC in products they place on the market to citizens or consumers who request such information within 45 days.
The list of substances of very high concern (SVHC), which is updated twice a year, is available on the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) website. This list includes most endocrine disruptors identified at European level. Based on this data, Belgium has developed a National Action Plan on Endocrine Disruptors (NAPED) One of the actions in this plan is for Belgium to join the European AskREACH project.
Our country joined the AskREACH project in 2023. Its main objective is to facilitate communication about information on substances of very high concern (SVHC) in products between suppliers of products and consumers. Belgian suppliers can now contribute to the project by encoding the presence of SVHC in the AskREACH system. These data are accessible to consumers via the Scan4Chem application. By supplier we mean any producer or importer of a product, any distributor or any other actor in the supply chain that places a product on the market. If this applies to you, you'll find more information on your obligations (anchor?) and how to use the supplier interface (anchor?) in the following sections.
The AskREACH project currently involves 20 European countries: Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Sweden, Greece, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Poland, Portugal, Serbia, Hungary, Montenegro, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Spain. The German Environment Agency (UBA) is the project coordinator. Its objectives are to:
- make the industrial sector and distributors aware of their communication obligations under Article 33.2 of the REACH Regulation,
- facilitate communication on SVHC between consumers and companies,
- communicate information to consumers about the presence of SVHC in their products easily and clearly,
- improve the protection of consumers' health by encouraging them to make responsible purchasing choices and thereby limiting their potential exposure to these substances,
- limit the potential impact of these products on the environment, in particular by complying with the principles of the Zero pollution action plan and by promoting, with the help of safer alternatives, the transition to a European circular economy,
- improve SVHC substitution in products by accelerating consumer demand for SVHC-free products and raising industry awareness.
- Your Obligations and Benefits as a Supplier
Legal Requirements for Communication and Information
Article 33 of the REACH regulation defines the obligation of suppliers to communicate information on substances of very high concern (SVHC) contained in their products. By supplier we mean any producer or importer of a product, any distributor or any other actor in the supply chain that places an item on the market. The substances concerned are included in the list of substances of very high concern .
Article 33 Duty to communicate information on substances in articles
1. Any supplier of an article containing a substance meeting the criteria in Article 57 and identified in accordance with Article 59(1) in a concentration above 0.1 % weight by weight (w/w) shall provide the recipient of the article with sufficient information, available to the supplier, to allow safe use of the article including, as a minimum, the name of that substance.
2. On request by a consumer any supplier of an article containing a substance meeting the criteria in Article 57 and identified in accordance with Article 59(1) in a concentration above 0.1 % weight by weight (w/w) shall provide the consumer with sufficient information, available to the supplier, to allow safe use of the article including, as a minimum, the name of that substance. The relevant information shall be provided, free of charge, within forty-five days of receipt of the request.
The AskREACH system is a tool that will enable you to meet your obligation of transparency towards consumers along the supply chain. This can be done on a regular basis or in response to a consumer request.
- As a product supplier, you must provide your customers with the names of all SVHC included in the product (> 0.1% by weight), free of charge and throughout the supply chain, as well as sufficient information on safe use [Article 33(1) of REACH].
- Following a consumer request, you, as a product supplier, must provide your customers with the names of all SVHC included in the article (> 0.1% by weight), free of charge and throughout the supply chain, and sufficient information on safe use [Article 33(2) of the REACH regulation].
Since 5 January 2021, this information must also be notified to the SCIP database in order to make it available throughout the product's life cycle, including as waste. The aim is to facilitate waste sorting and improve the quality of recycled materials.
What Are Your Benefits?
The AskREACH system allows you to present yourself as a reliable, responsible company that listens to consumers and enables you to:
- be transparent about the composition of your products and provide your customers with recommendations for the safe use of items containing SVHC;
- promote your SVHC-free products;
- actively communicate your commitments: show consumers that your company is responding to their concerns. 75% of European consumers expect companies to take sustainable development initiatives;
- benefit from regulatory support: thanks to a reminder to update your information, sent with every update of the SVHC list, you can keep up to date with your obligations under Article 33 of REACH.
- AskREACH for Companies
The AskREACH System
The AskREACH system is the result of the European project, LIFE AskREACH, co-funded by the European LIFE programme. It essentially consists of
- an AskREACH database , available in all participating countries and designed for companies;
- a consumer app, Scan4chem , translated into the national languages of the participating countries.
The AskREACH system contains information, supplied by companies, on the presence of SVHC in their products and is connected to Scan4Chem. By scanning a product’s barcode,the consumer can check whether it contains SVHC. If the product is not encoded, or if the information is not available, the application can then relay consumer requests to companies, who have 45 days to provide the information.
The AskREACH system consists of 4 interfaces:
- project portal
The consumer interface concerns the Scan4Chem application. The supplier interface includes database management and monitoring. In Belgium, the administration interface is governed by several partner organisations. FPS Public Health and FPS Economy handle communication and support for suppliers, while Bond Beter Leefmilieu & Ecoconso communicate with consumers. Consumers can contact them to obtain answers to their questions: contact BBL in Dutch and Ecoconso in French. The portal interface provides access to information via a computer.
AskREACH's Supplier Interface
This free system is accessible via a web browser and enables suppliers of products (manufacturers, importers and retailers) to manage and respond to consumer queries concerning substances of very high concern (SVHC).
The AskREACH supplier interface is connected to a database in which any product supplier can store information about the SVHC contained in its products. The supplier manages this information via the AskREACH supplier interface.
Information on SVHC in products that has been added to the database by the supplier is also accessible to any consumer via the Scan4Chem smartphone app. This allows the consumer to view information on SVHC in products included in the database, or to send a request for information on SVHC in products not yet included in the database. Any supplier can respond to a consumer request via the AskREACH supplier interface.
AskREACH's supplier interface has four functionalities:
- Entering barcodes in the system
The AskREACH system's barcode registration function enables barcode owners to define and enter their barcodes into the system.
- Managing information on SVHC in products
This function enables the user to enter, store and modify product information in the AskREACH system. Information on SVHC in products entered in the supplier interface is stored in the AskREACH database, which consumers can inquire to obtain SVHC information via the Scan4Chem smartphone app.
- Managing and responding to consumer queries about SVHC
This option acts as a communication platform between suppliers of products and their customers: the user can send a personal message to the requesting consumer. It also allows the user to save the product information in the AskREACH database, without having to answer another query concerning the same item again.
- Viewing statistics on SVHC queries
This option is currently unavailable.
- How to use the AskREACH system?
The detailed supplier interface manual takes you through the AskREACH system step-by-step. Below you find the 3 key steps of the supplier interface, as well as the reference pages in the manual.
Step 1/ Register your company in the AskREACH system
- Go to the platform https://suppliers.askreach.eu/
- Select "Register" at the bottom of the screen
- Enter information, click "Register" and follow the instructions. (p. 11 to 12 of the manual)
- Go to the "Barcode Range Declaration" tab to add the information for a range of barcodes of articles with SVHC concentrations > 0.1% (w/w)
- Go to the "Article declaration" tab and click "Add article" to add single articles (p. 24 to 32)
- To bulk upload multiple articles, click "More", then "Import" and upload your pre-filled AskREACH supplier declaration form (.xlsx). Find this Excel file here (p. 32 to 38).
Step 2/ Add company information
- Add company information on the "Profile" page.
- nter a generic email address to receive queries on SVHC in your products (p. 11 to 20).
- If you are a barcode owner, claim your barcode or global company prefix (GCP) at the bottom of the page. (p. 20 to 23)
Also watch the registration procedure to familiarise yourself with the system.
The AskREACH system is a communication tool, which enables both the consumer and the supplier to apply the right to know.
Companies can now use the platform to provide information on the presence of SVHC in their products.
Consumers can create a query on SVHC using the Scan4Chem smartphone app and send it to the corresponding product suppliers. The supplier must respond within 45 days of receipt of the request.
If the supplier does not provide the information within 45 days, you can report this to
Use of AskREACH is not mandatory. However, the Inspection Department of the DG Environment of the FPS Public Health, Food Chain Safety and Environment is responsible for monitoring compliance with the obligation set out in Article 33 of the REACH Regulation.
Failure to comply with this provision may result in criminal prosecution and is punishable by a prison sentence of between eight days and three years, and/or a fine of between 160 euros and 4,000,000 euros, under Article 17 §1 of the Belgian Product Standards Act (the Act of 21 December 1998 on product standards aimed at promoting sustainable production and consumption patterns and protecting the environment, health and workers). The criminal fine must be increased in line with an indexation method (additional decimals, currently 8).
Where is AskREACH available?
The system is used in Belgium, France, Germany, Serbia, Luxembourg, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Austria, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Greece, Portugal, Denmark, Sweden and Poland. The German Environment Agency (UBA) is the project coordinator. The Scan4Chem consumer application is translated into the respective languages. Its main objective is to facilitate communication on information about SVHC.
Which suppliers are required to provide information on substances of very high concern (SVHC) in their products?
By supplier we mean any producer or importer of an article, any distributor or any other actor in the supply chain that places an item on the market. You can contact the company from which you purchased the article directly.
Where can I find the list of SVHC?
What is the minimum concentration in an article at which SVHC must be disclosed?
These substances are considered to be present in an article when there is a concentration of at least 0.1% weight/weight (w/w). This obligation is described in Article 33 of the REACH regulation.
How do I complete my AskREACH data?
In the "How do I use the AskREACH system?" section, you'll find a brief explanation to help you familiarise yourself with the interface. The supplier manual contains all the step-by-step information you need to use the AskREACH system.
You can also consult the explanation on the use of the AskREACH system online.
Is the SCIP database linked to the AskREACH database?
As part of the revised Waste Framework Directive [Art.9], the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) is responsible for developing and maintaining the SCIP database, to which product suppliers have had to submit information on all articles they supply that contain SVHC (> 0.1%) since 5 January 2021.
AskREACH has been in contact with the SCIP team to explore synergies between the two databases. Challenges and commonalities have been identified and summarised in a document drawn up collaboratively between the two project teams. This document aims to explain the alignment and advantages of the two databases.
Why do I need to add my barcodes (only if I own them)?
Specifying barcodes or company prefixes in AskREACH allows the system to match consumers with relevant suppliers from whom SVHC information on articles can be requested.
What information is visible to the application user?
The application user will see the following information:
- the name of your company as defined in the supplier interface
- the data entry date
- whether or not the article contains SVHC > 0.1% (weight/weight)
- the name of any SVHC
- the version of the candidate list to which the information refers
- factsheets on each of the SVHC that are on the current candidate list
The information provided in the fact sheets is also available on the AskREACH project website.
What information do I need to encode for my article?
You must encode the following mandatory information:
- article name
- barcode (or ID)
- item category
- SVHC content > 0.1% (weight/weight)
- SVHC name(s)
You have the option to add a brand name, a description and an image of the article. You can specify whether the SVHC is found in the article and/or in the packaging and provide more information about the location or concentration of the SVHC in the article. You can also provide a .pdf file for more information on the location, concentration or use of the article.
How do I update my articles?
If an article's information is out of date, an "Update" button will appear in the "Candidate List" column of the relevant article. Click on this button to update it, then confirm in the "Update Candidate List for article" window that you want to update the article information so that it can refer to the most recent candidate list.
What does a company risk if it fails to respond to a consumer request?
The Inspection Department of the DG Environment of the FPS Public Health, Food Chain Safety and Environment is responsible for monitoring compliance with the obligation set out in Article 33 of the REACH Regulation.
Failure to comply with this provision may result in criminal prosecution and is punishable by a prison sentence of between eight days and three years, and/or a fine of between 160 euros and 4,000,000 euros, under article 17 §1 of the Product Standards Act (the Act of 21 December 1998 on product standards aimed at promoting sustainable production and consumption patterns and protecting the environment, health and workers). The criminal fine must be increased in line with an indexation method (additional decimals, currently 8).