What is ROHS?


ROHS, which is the acronym for "Reduction of Hazardous Substances", is a directive from the European Union (EU) that restricts the use of six substances in new electrical and electronic equipment that are placed on the market by July 1, 2006.


This ROHS directive from Eu is just a component of the ever-increasing global push towards more environmentally sound manufacturing practices and policies. Complementing the ROHS directive is another EU directive known as the "Waste from Electrical and Electronic Equipment" directive, or "WEEE" directive, which covers equipment recyclability.


Lead (Pb) is one of the hazardous substances being restricted by ROHS.  However, achieving lead-free operations is not enough to be compliant with ROHS.  Aside from Pb, the other banned substances are: cadmium (Cd), mercury (Hg), hexavalent chromium (Cr (VI)), polybrominated biphenyls (PBB's), and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE's).


The ROHS directive aims to: 1) reduce pollution and prevent its damaging effects to the environment; and 2) prevent human health problems due to occupational and post-disposal exposure to these harmful substances.


Entities affected by the ROHS directive include: 1) manufacturers and sellers of electrical and electronic equipment under their own brands;  2)  resellers of electrical and electronic equipment using their own brands, even if these equipment were manufactured by other suppliers; and 3) professional importers and exporters of electrical and electronic equipment from and to a member state of the EU. 


By August 2005, major producers of electrical and electronic hardware must be responsible for shouldering the costs of:  1) collecting waste electrical and electronic equipment from central points; 2) specialist treatment of these waste equipment; and 3) re-use, recycling, or recovery activities involving these waste equipment.


An organization may self-declare its compliance with ROHS once it has taken reasonable steps needed to comply with the legislation.  Evidence of compliance will only need to be provided if the enforcement authority asks for it. Failure of an organization to comply with the ROHS directive may result in serious fines and potential jail time, not to mention a ruined reputation for the company.


Reasonable steps for ROHS compliance would include: 1) testing of materials to ensure compliance; 2) monitoring of supply chain partners for compliance; 3) searching for and switching to ROHS-complaint suppliers; and 4) proper documentation of compliance.


Producers of equipment within the EU must obtain a declaration of ROHS compliance for all the parts, components, and materials that they are using.  Parts belonging to the same class or type with the same ROHS-compliant composition, however, may be covered by just a single certificate of declaration. Importers of equipment, on the other hand, need to ask the supplier of the equipment for a similar declaration of compliance for the equipment.


The products affected by the ROHS directive include: 1) household appliances; 2) IT and telecommunications equipment; 3) consumer equipment; 4) lighting products/systems; 5) electrical and electronic tools; 6) toys, leisure and sports equipment; 7) automatic dispensers. 


See Also:  The WEEE DirectivePb-free Manufacturing




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