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Päivi Jokiniemi and Paul Trouth
Article related to: PIC
Notifying the trade of hazardous chemicals more easily through ePIC
In the first quarter of each year, exporters and importers of hazardous chemicals subject to the Prior Informed Concern (PIC) Regulation have to inform their designated national authorities (DNAs) about the amounts they have shipped to or from each non-EU country during the previous year. This year is the first time that the reporting has been managed electronically as it is now integrated into ePIC. ECHA Newsletter spoke to Dr Marco Pirinoli and Ms Alberta Sbarufatti at the Italian company, Novafito S.p.A., to ask how they have adapted to ePIC.
Novafito S.p.A.'s main activities relate to the export and distribution of agrochemical products and recycled plastics. They trade in Italy and export throughout Europe and around the world.
"For some of our products, we need an export authorisation and an import authorisation from the importing country," Dr Pirinoli informs.
The impact of PIC on companies
| Marco Pirinoli. |
Image: Marco Pirinoli.
As a small company with only six employees, Dr Pirinoli and Ms Sbarufatti are the only staff that work on PIC. "In the beginning, PIC seemed very difficult for a company of our size and we found ePIC to be a little complicated," Dr Pirinoli says. "However, once we started using it, we were able to overcome our difficulties," he tells.
In Dr Pirinoli's view, the size of their company hasn't really affected their ability to comply with PIC. "If we compare ourselves to an Italian multinational, they clearly have more resources and staff that can be dedicated to the PIC work. However, they are also likely to have more products affected by PIC than we do," he says. "Of course, while the multinationals can hire employees who are solely dedicated to PIC, this is a luxury that we don't have as we also have to manage many other activities aside from PIC. For me, it is all about managing our time well," Dr Pirinoli continues.
Learning to use ePIC
"In the past, we didn't use EDEXIM to notify ourselves because our notifications were done as part of a joint venture with an agroscience group. This is the first time that we have submitted our export notifications by ourselves and so we needed to learn how the ePIC system worked," says Ms Sbarufatti.
Aside from their own notifications, Novafito S.p.A. has also submitted export notifications on behalf of another Italian company, Finchimica. Finchimica is an independent company, but belongs to the same group, Finagro S.p.A.
For Ms Sbarufatti, it was relatively easy to learn how to use ePIC. "It is not a complex tool and we were able to quickly learn to use it to submit our notifications. The good thing is that when we ran into some issues with the tool or had some doubts, we were able to contact ECHA and resolve them very quickly," she adds.
"We are very happy with the speed and quality of the support offered by ECHA. Getting a response quickly is really important for us as it helps us to conduct our PIC activities efficiently and manage our business well. Sometimes, waiting for a response from the national authorities can take time and this is something we think needs to improve," Ms Sbarufatti highlights.
In the January release of ePIC, a new feature was added which stores the company names and addresses of importers, making it easier to retrieve these details without having to input them manually.
| Alberta Sbarufatti. |
Image: Alberta Sbarufatti.
Novafito S.p.A. sees the new system of reporting electronically as a positive development. The previous tool, EDEXIM, did not allow this reporting obligation which was therefore managed outside the system.
"Moving the reporting to an electronic system is clearly beneficial. It has cut down the workload because Excel is no longer used to report the numbers of exports manually. Now, all of the amounts are already prefilled in the system from the notifications that were submitted last year. We only need to check them and send them to the authorities using ePIC," Ms Sbarufatti confirms.
Since companies report to the authorities in ePIC and authorities use the same system to report to the European Commission, the whole reporting process is in one place which makes it more efficient and less error-prone.
The need for continued support
In 2014, Novafito S.p.A. attended two workshops on ePIC in Helsinki. "They gave us a chance to work specifically on simulations for our export notifications. We learned a lot because we were able to look at our situation side-by-side with ECHA. This made it easier to work on the tool when we returned back to our offices in Italy," Dr Pirinoli remarks.
Novafito S.p.A. then shared their knowledge with other companies. "After the first workshop in May, we were contacted by another Italian company that was having difficulties using ePIC. They were not able to attend the workshops themselves, and so they were asking for our support in using the tool. We were happy to help them and did so by following the examples we had received at the workshop," Dr Pirinoli explains.
"I think that this experience shows that there is still a need to reach out to some companies who may be struggling with PIC. I really hope that such workshops will also be held in the future," Dr Pirinoli concludes.
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Did you know?
Export notifications for 2015
4 685 notifications for exports in 2015 have been approved by ECHA and the DNAs by the end of May 2015.
Only the first yearly export of a chemical/mixture/article to each importing country needs to be notified.
Reported export and import of PIC chemicals during 2014
By the end of May 2015:
125 companies reported imports of PIC chemicals.
400 companies reported exports of PIC chemicals.
The legal deadline for submitting these reports has passed and they can no longer be submitted through ePIC. Those companies who have not submitted their reports yet must contact their DNAs as soon as possible.
Novafito S.p.A. is an independent commercial company specialised in the sale of agrochemical products. Belonging to the Italian group Finagro S.p.A., they are based in the outskirts of Milan. They have sales activity worldwide, with their main export activities in the EU, United States, Brazil, Australia as well as some Middle-East, Far-East and African countries.
Novafito's products are mainly herbicides, but they also have some other types of agrochemicals, such as fungicides and insecticides and other fine chemical intermediates in their portfolio.
Interview by Paul Trouth
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