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With more and more electrical and electronic items becoming available, coupled with the shorter life cycles of these products, it is critical that these products are produced with minimum risk to human health and the environment.
The Restriction of the use of certain Hazardous Substances (RoHS) Directive limits the amount of six hazardous substances used in manufacturing many common, frequently used Electrical and Electronic Equipment (EEE).
Since 1 July 2006, components and materials of EEE placed on the market for the first time can only contain very low concentrations of lead, mercury, cadmium, hexavalent chromium, polybrominated biphenyls and polybrominated dipenhyl ethers.
EEE covered by this Directive is found in Categories 1 to 7 and Category 10 of Annex 1B of the WEEE Directive (2002/96/EC). All producers (as defined by the WEEE regulations) who have registered on the WEEE register for 2006 have declared that they will supply only RoHS compliant EEE onto EU markets after 1 July 2006.
Manufacturers of EEE must ensure their manufacturing operations produce only compliant products. Additionally, manufacturers must employ in-house quality checks to confirm product compliance with the RoHS Directive’s requirements. All economic operators within the EEE supply chain have responsibilities to ensure only compliant products are offered to the consumer. In Ireland, non-compliance with the Directive’s requirements can lead to fines, product withdrawals from the market and/or their recall from consumers.
The RoHS Directive compliance requirements are now incorporated in the CE marking regime. Manufacturers must ensure they have records, known as a technical file, which shows the EEE they place on the market is compliant with the Directive's requirements. Only when a manufacturer has performed all the relevant necessary conformity assessment checks and developed the technical file can he/she place the CE mark on the product. Also, importers of EEE must ensure the manufacturer of the EEE has developed the technical file. These records must be accessible for six years from the end of the year the EEE was last placed on the EU market.
The Environmental Protection Agency is the designated market surveillance authority for the enforcement of the RoHS Directive in Ireland. Checks are made on product technical files and in some cases analysis of components and/or materials used in the EEE may have to be carried out. The Agency also cooperates with other RoHS Enforcement authorities in Europe through the RoHS Enforcement Network.
Additionally, producers or distributors who know they have placed non-RoHS compliant products on the market are legally obliged to inform the EPA of this.
The RoHS Directive is just part of an ever-increasing push for more environmentally sound manufacturing policies across the whole electrical and electronic industries.
Find out more about the WEEE Directive
Restrictions of use of certain hazardous substances in EEE Directive 2002/95/EC
Restrictions of certain hazardous substances in EEE S.I. No. 341 of 2005
ECJ Ruling on the exemption for DecaBDE in electrical & electronic equipment (Court Proceeding 2008/C 116/04)
2005/618/EC 18 August 20052005/717/EC 13 October 20052005/747/EC 21 October 20052006/310/EC 21 April 20062006/690/EC 12 October 20062006/691/EC 12 October 20062006/692/EC 12 October 2006
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