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An article is the legal term under REACH for any object that has been given a specific shape, surface or design so that it can be used for a specific purpose (e.g. manufactured goods such as cars, textiles, electronic chips).
"Article means an object which during production is given a special shape, surface or design which determines its function to a greater degree than its chemical composition;" (REACH, Article 3(3)).
In a general understanding, an article is an object composed of one or more substances or preparations given a specific shape, surface or design. It may be produced from natural materials, such as wood or wool, or from synthetic ones, such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC). Substances or preparations may be added to give an article its special properties. Most of the commonly used objects in private households and industries are articles, e.g. furniture, clothes, vehicles, books, toys, kitchen equipment, and electronic equipment. In order to determine whether or not an object fulfils the definition of an article under REACH sometimes a deeper assessment of an object’s function and its properties are needed.
Borderline in the sequence of processing natural or synthetic materials to final articles (page23) When materials are processed, there is a certain point in the processing, where they change from being a substance/preparation to being an article. In some cases there may be doubts on when exactly this transition occurs. The following approach should be seen as decision help in support of the application of the article definition when deciding on these types of cases. The following steps may be taken:
As a general principle, the article definition should be applied, which is a two-step process:
If you can unambiguously conclude that the shape/surface/design are more relevant for the function than the chemical composition, the (form of the) material that you are assessing is an article. If the shape, surface or design is of equal or less importance than the chemical composition, it is a substance or preparation.