RoHS Revisited: RoHS 2

8/13/2013

The EU has revised the RoHS directive and launched RoHS 2. Before we talk about what’s different in the revisions, let’s review what we know. Though each member country developed its own laws under the directive, the chief aim of the overarching legislation is to restrict the use of lead, mercury, cadmium, hexavalent chromium, polybrominated biphenyls (PBB), and polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE).

Why these six substances? Commonly used in the electrical and electronic industry, these substances are known to have both short and long-term negative impacts on every system in the body, but especially the nervous system. They are linked to developmental and behavioral disorders, reproductive defects, and even cancer.

What’s New in RoHS 2?

Ultimately, RoHS was recast for the same reason it was initially put into place: to reduce the negative impact of electronic waste on humans and the environment. In order to better do this, the EU did some housekeeping to make the legislation more effective. The new edits are intended to simplify and clarify the directive and make it more enforceable. Here are the key differences:

Scope

Originally, RoHS restricted the use of the six substances in the following categories:

  • Large and small household appliances
  • IT and telecommunications equipment
  • Consumer equipment
  • Light bulbs and other lighting equipment
  • Electronic and electrical tools
  • Toys, leisure, and sports equipment
  • Automatic dispensers
  • Semiconductor devices

Previously, medical devices, as well as monitoring and control instruments, were exempt, but that is no longer the case. With RoHS 2, the directive will gradually be extended to include these categories by July of 2019. The recast also includes a provision for a review of the scope to occur no later than July 2014.

Restriction of New Substances

Also scheduled for July 2014 (and periodically thereafter), is a review of the list of restricted substances. A protocol has been put in place for how to assess new hazardous substances. This process also allows the Member States to propose new substance restrictions.

Exemptions

Though efforts were made to streamline and clarify language and processes throughout the directive, special care was taken to make the rules for granting, renewing, and deleting exemptions more transparent.

Coherence With Other EU Legislation

In an effort to reduce the administrative burden of the directive and to increase its cost-effectiveness, the revisions work to align RoHS with other existing EU legislation related to the industrial market and waste management. The most notable change here is that, in order to CE-mark a product, you must first ensure that it is in compliance with RoHS and not just the Medical Device, Machinery, EMC, or Low Voltage Directive. The product must go through proper testing and have the necessary documents.

Useful Resources

If you need more info, you can look at the materials on the European Union RoHS/WEEE page or take your questions directly to the EU’s FAQ document. For more information on legislation in specific member countries, consult this chart. CE-mark.com also gives a good breakdown of the directive. Economic operators (manufacturers, authorized representatives, distributors, and importers) in the United States may also benefit from the resources provided by export.gov.

If you need RoHS compliant wire and cable, contact Allied Wire & Cable. Today, over 90% of our products are RoHS compliant.