The RoHS Directive 2002 prohibits producers of electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) from marketing new EEE in the EU that contains more than the prescribed levels of six hazardous substances from 1 July 2006
These substances are: lead, mercury, cadmium, hexavalent chromium, polybrominated biphenyls and polybrominated diphenyl ethers.
RoHS works alongside the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (WEEE Directive), which requires producers of EEE to finance the collection, recovery and disposal of WEEE.
Together, the directives make up part of a scheme of 'producer responsibility' legislation, which require businesses placing products on the market to be responsible for reducing the harmful effects of those products during their lifecycle.
To comply with RoHS producers need to analyse components and materials used in their products to ensure that the relevant prescribed levels of restricted substances are not exceeded. It is common to request declarations of compliance from suppliers.
The revised directive
The Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) issued a consultation on UK implementation of a revised RoHS Directive on 12 April 2012.
Member states have until January 2013 to implement the requirements of the RoHS Directive 2011. Draft Restriction of the Use of Certain Hazardous Substances in Electrical and Electronic Equipment Regulations 2012 and draft government guidance have been issued as part of the consultation.
The draft regulations:
- apply to EEE placed on the market after 2 January 2013
- allow EEE which was outside of the previous 2002 Directive, but which would not comply with the 2011 Directive, to continue to be made available until 22 July 2019
- provides that products newly in scope do not have to comply with the requirements until 2019
- contains provisions on enforcement, offences and prosecution
- allow for future exemptions to be covered without the need for amendment regulations
The consultation closes on 6 July 2012. The Government proposes to publish a response within three months of the consultation closing. The final version of the regulations will then be made and laid before Parliament, to come into force on 2 January 2013. The revised guidance should be available ten weeks prior to this date.
For details of the content of the 2011 Directive, please see our article: 'Recast WEEE and RoHS Directives'.