On March 10, 2022, a public consultation on updating the European Union’s Directive on the Restriction of the Use of Certain Hazardous Substances in Electrical and Electronic Equipment (“RoHS”) began. It will end on June 2, 2022.
What Is RoHS?
RoHS is an EU directive that restricts the use of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment (such as lead, mercury, cadmium, hexavalent chromium, PBBs, and PBDEs). The scope of RoHS has expanded steadily since its initial introduction. It was extended in July 2019 to include all EEE that is not specifically exempted. In December 2021, the Commission passed 12 Delegated Acts ending existing exclusions for specific product categories.
Why Does RoHS Need Revision?
RoHS is being amended as part of a much bigger review of EU chemicals law and a general effort to make products more environmentally friendly. Other significant components of EU chemicals law, such as REACH and the CLP, are also being amended at the same time.
What Are The Changes That We Can Expect?
The Commission is currently looking at the following legislative proposals:
- The introduction of non-legislative “soft-measures” ;
(e.g. an update to the RoHS FAQ document to describe how RoHS interacts with other laws (primarily REACH and Ecodesign).
- The introduction of revising legislative “hard measures” ;
(these are to either clarify or to improve:
- the exemption criteria and process,
- the substance restrictions trigger, criteria and process, and/or
- the implementation and enforcement.)
- Transforming the RoHS Directive into a Regulation
(to simplify its application, this should apply in the same way in all countries)
- Repealing the RoHS Directive
(RoHS’ provisions should be incorporated into REACH and/or sustainable products legislation, such as the new EU ecodesign rules).
What Is The Goal Of This RoHS Revision?
In the European Commission’s 2022 work programme, the goal of the RoHS revision is stated as to:
“Strengthen and simplify legislation to better protect citizens and the environment against hazardous chemicals, inter alia by taking into account the move towards a process of ‘one substance – one assessment’ and providing for greater transparency when prioritising action to deal with chemicals, as well as by encouraging innovation for the development of safe and sustainable alternatives, as highlighted in the European Green Deal. The revision will aim to reduce administrative burden with regard to the exemptions process.”
Hopefully, the RoHS revision will help make requirements for consumer electronics clearer and provide greater alignment with the rest of the EU chemicals regime. The public consultation is your chance to share your thoughts on the best way to improve the RoHS Directive. Here you may find further information as well as a link to the consultation questionnaire.
The Commission has suggested that it will publish draft legislation in Q4 of 2022.
The expectation is that this legislation would likely be passed in 2023/2024 and the enforcement date would be 2025/2026.
How Can The RoHS Revision Impact Your Business?
Changes could have far-reaching implications, especially if they lead to tighter controls on the chemicals which can be used in electronic items sold in the EU. Changes to RoHS are expected to have an impact on legislation in other nations throughout the world.
Once it is clear how the Commission intends to alter the RoHS regulation, we will be able to analyze the impact of any modifications.
How Does This Impact Your Business In The UK?
For the time being, the UK RoHS Regulations are still in line with EU policy. It’s unclear whether the UK will take the same strategy as the EU in the future, or if the EU’s measures will be repeated in the UK. The UK government is likewise concerned about hazardous compounds in products. Reduced usage of hazardous compounds in materials and products could increase the use of secondary materials, according to a current waste prevention consultation (as they are more likely to comply with the potentially more stringent future restrictions on the use of hazardous substances).
The consultation document “Waste Prevention Programme for England” and the policy paper “Our waste, our resources: a strategy for the future” can both be found in the link & download section underneath.
Links and downloads:
- The current RoHS explained on cemarking.net
- The RoHS in the Official Journal of the EU
- The European Commission’s 2022 work programme
- The REACH regulation explained on cemarking.net
- More information about this consultation on the EC website
- Link to the Official Questionnaire
- “Waste Prevention Programme for England”
- “Our waste, our resources: a strategy for the future”
Source: Emma Bichet and Corinne Robinson from Cooley.com