Suppliers and distributors were given a wake-up call to focus more resource and energy in understanding and complying with the EU REACH (Regulation on Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals) Directive, amidst serious concerns that the electronics industry’s voice is not being heard at the EU.
George Steinberger, chair of FBDI (the German distribution association) told the FBDI/IDEA conference in Munich that European electronics companies were always behind the legislative bus, never on it.
“Distributors are taking collateral damage from the EU directives as they are reacting to events rather than being in position to influence events.”
The REACH responses have been dominated by the major chemical companies, but the Directive has a major impact on the electronics industry. The industry was caught by surprise last year when 38 new substances – some used by the electronics industry- were added to the REACH list of hazardous chemicals.
“Companies are concerned, whether they be pure distributors, manufacturer/distributors or companies they buy in product, modify it and sell it on,” said Jens Dorwath from HY-LINE Computer Group.
EU-based companies selling on to EU customers have to take some responsibility to ensure compliance even if the only obligation is to inform.
“That means we have to obtain information from the manufacturer if is not based in the EU, that’s my company’s responsibility,” said Dorwath. “I have to ask for the data and rely on the integrity of the data.”
“If the product is imported from China I have to rely on the datasheet and I have to undertake due diligence,” he continued. Dorwald doubted that some smaller companies would be aware of the impact of the REACH Directive, and even if they were, whether they could afford the resource to ensure compliance.
He has taken on a full time employee to manage HY-LINE’s obligations and invested a six figure Euro sum to upgrade the company’s IT systems to help meet the EU regulations.
Georg Steinberger called for more co-operation between electronics industry bodies. “We need to be aware that cooperation is the way to get our voice heard at the EU.”


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