New developments on the implementation of SAGA concept in the REACH authorisation process for decorative plating

Are there “suitable alternatives generally available” (SAGA) to the use of chromium trioxide for decorative chrome plating? ECHA hosted a workshop on the 10th October 2022 to address this question.

The meeting focused on the suitability of trivalent chromium (CrIII) plating systems as alternatives to the hexavalent chromium (CrVI) plating systems for decorative chrome plating. There were presentations from ECHA, Eurometaux, decorative chrome plating companies and consultancies followed by a panel discussion. The discussion focused on the use of boric acid with CrIII plating systems. Boric acid has a harmonised classification as Repr. 1B. This may mean that the CrIII plating system is not necessarily safer than the CrVI plating system. It was also highlighted that the CrIII compounds are manufactured from CrVI starting materials. This means that supply of CrIII compounds requires upstream use of hexavalent chromates and that in effect, substitution would not give an overall risk reduction if the entire supply chain is considered.

ECHA will publish a summary of the meeting discussion points in the coming weeks. From our understanding, there seemed to be general consensus that CrIII plating systems may not fulfil “SAGA” criteria.

What does this mean for three pending upstream applications specifically for this use? It will be interesting to see if the findings of the workshop will be considered by the Commission in its decision making on the three pending upstream applications (Chemservice et alREGARTIS s.r.o and HAPOC GmbH & Co KG). These applications are likely to be refused in 2023 due to the “non-credible” substitution plans submitted with the applications. However if decorative chrome plating use is now considered not to have a “SAGA”, there is no requirement to submit a substitution plan with the authorisation application. Would this new understanding mean that the authorisations may not necessarily be refused based solely on the “non-credible” substitution plans?  Given the number of downstream users that would be impacted by refusal of these three applications, there will certainly be a lot of discussion on this in the coming months.

REACHLaw is following the developments closely and therefore, don’t hesitate in contact us at  should you have questions or need support with authorisation related matters.

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