RoHS Overview

The EU Directive on RoHS is just part of an ever-increasing push for more environmentally sound manufacturing policies across the whole of industry. Launching around the same time in the European Union is the WEEE Directive (Waste from Electrical and Electronic Equipment), which covers the recyclability of equipment.

Affected Products:

  • Household appliances.
  • IT and telecommunications equipment.
  • Consumer equipment.
  • Lighting.
  • Electrical and electronic tools (except large scale stationary industrial tools).
  • Toys, leisure and sports equipment.
  • Automatic dispensers.

Exemptions to the rules:

Certain materials covered by the RoHS Directive are exempt in a number of cases, although this list is currently under review. This is likely to take some time to be ironed out and further exemptions / amendments will need to be supported with appropriate evidence and agreed at a Europe-wide level.

RoHS Directive:

Full text of the RoHS Directive (pdf) from the European Union - Directive 2002/95/EC on the Restriction of use of certain Hazardous Substances. The text looks at the objectives of the directive, the scope, definitions, prevention, penalties as well as transposition and entry into force.

WEEE Directive:
Full text of the WEEE Directive (pdf)
from the European Union. Directive 2002/96/EC on Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment. The text looks at the objectives of the directive, the scope, definitions, product design, collection, treatment, recovery, financing (article 9), information for users, treatment facilities and reporting as well as penalties, enforcement, transposition and entry into force.

European Commission- FAQs:
In May the European Commission published a comprehensive list of frequently asked questions intended to help the authorities interpret both the RoHS and WEEE Directives. FAQ (pdf)

AEEMA
RoHS and WEEE Specialists New Zealand

Last month the EU RoHS Enforcement Authorities Informal Network released a document called "RoHS Enforcement Guidance Document". This document is the first definitive guidance on how the EU Authorities will enforce RoHS. This information is critical to understanding what industry has to implement to satisfy the Authorities if investigated. It also gives guidance on the selection criteria for products under scrutiny.

RoHS Enforcement Guidance May 2006.pdf
Key issues addressed within the Guidance include:

  • The underlying principles that might be used to guide RoHS enforcement
  • The type of documentation that 'producers' (within the specific definition given in Article 3 of the Directive1) might be advised to keep
  • The ways in which Member State enforcement authorities might use such documentation to check for RoHS compliance
  • The ways in which sample preparation and analytical testing might be employed to avoid inconsistent enforcement decisions between Member States

RoHS:
Restriction of the use of certain Hazardous Substances

"RoHS" is the common name that has been given to the European Union (EU) Directive 2002/95/EC on the Restriction of the use of certain Hazardous Substances in electrical and electronic equipment.
The RoHS directive requires the restriction of SIX substances; the four metals: lead (Pb), mercury (Hg), cadmium (Cd), and hexavalent chromium (Cr (VI)) and two groups of halogenated, organic flame retardants: PBBs (polybrominated biphenyls) and PBDEs (polybrominated diphenyl ethers).
While most of the industry focus on RoHS compliance has been directed towards lead, and in the promotion of "lead free" goods, it is important to note that the removal and control of lead alone will not achieve RoHS compliance.
The restrictions will apply to electro and electronic devices and components sold into, and within, the EU from 1st July 2006.

WEEE:
Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment

Directives 2002/95/EC on the restriction of the use of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment and 2002/96/EC on waste electrical and electronic equipment are designed to tackle the fast increasing waste stream of electrical and electronic equipment and complements European Union measures on landfill and incineration of waste. Increased recycling of electrical and electronic equipment will limit the total quantity of waste going to final disposal. Producers will be responsible for taking back and recycling electrical and electronic equipment. This will provide incentives to design electrical and electronic equipment in an environmentally more efficient way, which takes waste management aspects fully into account. Consumers will be able to return their equipment free of charge. In order to prevent the generation of hazardous waste, Directive 2002/95/EC requires the substitution of various heavy metals (lead, mecury, cadmium, and hexavalent chromium) and brominated flame retardants (polybrominated biphenyls (PBB) or polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE)) in new electrical and electronic equipment put on the market from 1 July 2006.
WEEE link