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Hazardous Substances in Electrical and Electronic Equipment (RoHS)

A Directive 2002/95/EC on the restriction of the use of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) was first adopted in 1995.65 In 2011 a number of substantial changes were made, including an expansion of the Directive’s scope to cover more electrical appliances. It was also recast as Directive 2011/65/EU.66

The Directive, based on Article 114 TFEU and generally referred to as the ‘RoHS Directive’, aims to contribute to the protection of human health and the environment, including the environmentally sound recovery and disposal of waste EEE. To that end, it lays down rules on the restriction of the use of hazardous substances in EEE falling within the categories set out in Annex I. The Annex includes the

[2011] OJ L 174/88.

catch-all category ‘other EEE’. Exempted from the Directive’s scope are, inter alia, large-scale stationary industrial tools, large-scale fixed installations, most means of transport for persons or goods, and equipment specifically designed solely for the purposes of research and development. (Arts 1 and 2.)

‘EEE’ is defined as equipment which is dependent on electric currents or electromagnetic fields in order to work properly and equipment for the generation, transfer, and measurement of such currents and fields and designed for use with a voltage rating not exceeding 1,000 volts for alternating current and 1,500 volts for direct current. (Art 3.)

Member States shall ensure that EEE placed on the market, including cables and, with some exceptions, spare parts, does not contain the substances listed in Annex II. These include lead, mercury, cadmium, and polybrominated biphenyls. In July 2019 four phthalates will be added to the list.[1] [2] [3] Listed substances are tolerated in homogeneous materials as long as they do not exceed certain maximum concentrations.

Certain applications, listed in Annexes III and IV, are exempted from this prohibition. In the light of scientific and technical progress, the Commission may include or remove materials and components of EEE from these Annexes. (Arts 4 and 5.)

When placing EEE on the market, manufacturers shall ensure that it has been designed and manufactured in accordance with the relevant requirements. They shall also affix the CE marking on products that are in compliance with the applicable requirements.68 Importers must be required to only place EEE that complies with the Directive on the Union market, while distributors must also ensure the rules are adhered to. (Arts 7, 9, and 10.)

The annexes, including the list of restricted substances and their tolerated concentration values, are to be regularly reviewed.

  • [1] Commission Delegated Directive (EU) 2015/863 amending Annex II to Directive 2011/65/EUof the European Parliament and of the Council as regards the list of restricted substances [2015] OJL 137/10.
  • [2] The ‘CE marking’ is a marking by which the manufacturer indicates that the product is in conformity with the applicable requirements set out in Union harmonisation legislation providing for itsaffixing (Art 3).
  • [3] [2008] OJ L 304/75.
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