Restriction on use of hazardous substances - RoHS

The Directive on the Restriction of the use of certain Hazardous Substances in Electrical and Electronic Equipment (Directive 2011/65/EU or RoHS Directive) aims to reduce the risk posed by some hazardous substances to human health and the environment. The Directive limits the amounts of Cadmium, Hexavalent Chromium, Lead, Mercury, Polybrominated Biphenyls (PBB) and Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDE) in each component/material of electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) therefore minimising the release of these substances into the environment particularly during the recovery and disposal of Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE). Specific exemptions regarding these restrictions are permitted for certain, clearly defined applications.

Permitted concentrations of restricted substances

From 1 July 2006, components and materials of EEE placed on the market, i.e. made available for the first time, must not contain more than 0.1% w/w of lead, mercury, hexavalent chromium, polybrominated biphenyls and polybrominated diphenyl ethers and 0.01% w/w of cadmium (see Annex II of the Directive).

EEE covered by this Directive can be found in Annex I of the Directive while hte exemptions are listed in Annex III.

Obligations

All economic operators within the EEE supply chain have responsibilities to ensure only compliant products are offered to the consumer. Manufacturers of EEE must ensure their products are designed and manufactured so EEE components and materials do not contain more than the relevant permitted limits of the restricted substances. This is achieved by drawing up the required technical documentation and carrying out internal product control procedures (which includes  in-house compliance checks) in line with module A of Annex II to Decision No. 768/2008/EC. Having demonstrated compliance through such procedures, the manufacturer must generate the EU the product Declaration of Conformity. Only when the manufacturer has demonstrated the EEE is compliant with all the relevant product legislation can the CE marking be affixed.  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, manufacturer, importers or distributors who know they have made available non-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.

Learn more

Download the RoHS Directive

Download the Irish Regulations regarding the Restrictions of certain hazardous substances in EEE  S.I. 513 of 2012 

ECJ Ruling on the exemption for DecaBDE in electrical & electronic equipment (Court Proceeding 2008/C 116/04)

Related legislation:

Regulation on Accreditation and Market Surveillance - Regulation (EC) No. 765/2008
Decision on a Common Framework for the Marketing of Product - Decision No. 768/2008/EC