The EU ban on heavy metals and other dangerous chemicals in electrical and electronic equipment has now been extended to a much wider range of products, with new rules entering into force. The new law is designed to improve the safety of electronic products such as thermostats, medical devices and control panels, and to prevent the release of hazardous substances into the environment. Member States have 18 months to transpose the new rules.
The new law is a revision of the RoHS Directive on the restriction of hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment. It will continue to ban lead, mercury, cadmium, hexavalent chromium and the flame retardants Polybrominated biphenyls (PBB) and Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE). The previous RoHS Directive covered several categories of electrical and electronic equipment including household appliances, IT and consumer equipment, but it has now been extended to all electronic equipment, cables and spare parts. Exemptions can still be granted in cases where no satisfactory alternative is available. The list of banned substances will be reviewed on a regular basis.
In view of the significant extension of the scope, the new Directive introduces transition periods of up to 8 years for the new products affected by the rules.
Photovoltaic panels are exempted from the new Directive in an effort to help the EU reach its objectives for renewable energy and energy efficiency.
Implementation and compliance are important aspects of the new rules, which include a mechanism to make it easier for the Commission to monitor compliance.