RoHS is the EU Directive for the Restriction of Hazardous Substances, any any organization that sells electrical or electronic equipment, sub assemblies, cables, components or spare parts directly to RoHS-compliant countries or sells to any reseller or distributor that in turn supplies products to these countries has to comply.
The Directive specifies maximum levels of 10 restricted substances:
- Cadmium (Cd): <100ppm
- Lead (Pb): <1000ppm
- Mercury (Hg): <1000ppm
- Hexavalent Chromium (Cr VI): <1000ppm
- Polybrominated Biphenyls (PBB): <1000ppm
- Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDE): <1000ppm
- Bis(2-Ethylhexyl) Phthalate (DEHP): <1000ppm
- Benzyl Butyl Phthalate (BBP): <1000ppm
- Dibutyl Phthalate (DBP): <1000ppm
- Diisobutyl Phthalate (DIBP): <1000ppm
Testing to this directive requires specialist equipment (X-Ray Fluorospectroscopy, chemical testing), and is usually much simpler for the manufacturer to assess, as every component of a system has to be compliant.
Many types of energy-consuming products are regulated to control the levels of hazardous substances that they contain. This supports their effective recovery, reuse and recycling.
All products in scope must:
- have a Declaration of Conformity
- have a supporting technical file to show compliance
- be marked appropriately
- display the CE label
Specific steps must be taken if a product is discovered or suspected to be non-compliant.
The Restriction of the Use of Certain Hazardous Substances in Electrical and Electronic Regulations 2012 (as amended) are the underpinning legislation.
What is covered?
The regulations cover most electrical and electronic equipment (EEE), defined in 10 broad categories. Whether they extend to a particular manufactured item can be a complex issue to resolve, as this depends on its nature and function.
The regulations do not apply to:
- products for military use or designed to be sent into space
- products integral to equipment that is out of scope
- large scale industrial tools and fixed installations
- photovoltaic (solar) panels produced for permanent use at specific locations
- means of transport (apart from certain two-wheeled electric vehicles)
- non-road mobile machinery for professional use
- products for research and development available on a business-to-business basis
- active implantable medical devices
Who is responsible for compliance?
Responsibility for compliance is shared by the manufacturer or importer placing the EEE on the UK market and the distributor (including retailers).
How do I comply?
All the components and subassemblies of EEE placed on the UK market must contain less than the maximum prescribed levels of lead, cadmium, mercury, hexavalent chromium and two specified flame retardants.
Manufacturers must verify their EEE is within these limits, and evaluate and self-certify its production controls with reference to the measures detailed in the regulations. A Declaration of Conformity must be completed, supported by a technical file to show compliance. These must be made available to the Office for Product Safety and Standards (Safety & Standards) if requested and retained for 10 years after the EEE is first placed on the UK market.
Individual products must have a type, batch or serial number and show the manufacturer’s name, address and registered trade name or mark. They also need to display the CE label, although in practice this is likely to be already required under other legislation.
Importers must confirm manufacturers have met the regulations for EEE they place on the UK market, retaining copies of the Declaration of Conformity and technical file for10 years. Individual products must show the importer’s name, address and registered trade name or mark. (If an importer places EEE on the UK market under its own name or trade mark, it has to comply with all the obligations on manufacturers.)
Distributors must ensure that EEE is marked appropriately and displays the CE label. (If a distributor modifies products in a way that might affect their compliance, it has to comply with all the obligations on manufacturers.)
All parties must take specific steps if they know or suspect a product is non-compliant, including:
- notifying Market Surveillance Authorities (MSAs)
- informing the supply chain
- taking remedial action
- keeping a register of non-conformities
The trigger point for notification is if the economic operator ‘considers or has reason to believe’ that a product does not conform to the regulations. This will vary on a case by case basis and depends on the likelihood of non-compliance given the assessment information available.
Economic operators must communicate detected non-conformities to other economic operators in the supply chain:
- manufacturers and importers must inform their distributors
- importers must inform the manufacturer
- distributors must inform the importer or manufacturer as appropriate
Where an economic operator ‘considers or has reason to believe’ that a product does not conform to the regulations it is required to take action as appropriate to:
- quarantine the product
- bring it into conformity (fix the non-conformity)
- withdraw it (stop it from being made available further down the supply chain, including to end users)
- recall it (draw it back from end users)
Manufacturers and importers are required to keep a register of non-conformities identified, which must be kept for 10 years.
UK notifications must be submitted to Safety & Standards.