Overview of EU's ROHS

Due to ever- increasing threat to human life and environment, European Union pushed measures for protection.
The European Union released the Directive 2002/95/EC or the Restriction on the use of Hazardous Substances (ROHS) in electrical and electronic equipment (EEC)
The purpose of this directive is to approximate the laws of the Member states on the restrictions of the use of hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipments and to contribute to the protection of human health and environmentally sound recovery and disposal of waste electrical and electronic equipments.
The scope of the directive applies to EEE and to light bulbs and luminaries in household. EEE means equipment which is dependable on electric currents or electromagnetic fields in order to work properly and equipment for the generation, transfer and measurement of such current and fields falling under the categories set out in Annex 1A of Directive 2002/96/EC and designed for use with a voltage rating not exceeding 1,500 volt for direct current. In other words, electricity is the primary energy or when the electricity if off appliance cannot function. It applies to all products covered by the WEEE Directive with some exceptions. But it does not apply to spare parts, or to re- use, of EEE put to market before July 1, 2006.
The gist of the Directive is that the Member State shall, from July 1,2006, new electrical and electronic equipment put to the market does not contain lead, mercury, cadmium, hexavalent, chromium, polybrominated biphenyls (PBB) or polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE) (Art. 4 Section 1). These banned heavy metals and flame retardants are present in all EEE thus, this directive. Lead is used in solders, termination coatings, paints, pigments, PVC, stabilizers, and batteries. Cadmium is present in coatings, solders, semiconductors, contacts, PVC stabilizers, and pigments. Mercury is an element in fluorescent lamps, batteries, sensors, and relays. Hexavalent Chromium is an essential substance in coatings to prevent corrosion (on zinc or aluminum or in paints) metallised plastic. PBB is a flame retardant in certain plastics but this is no longer produced. PBDE is also a flame retardant in plastics that has several different products.
However, in special cases, specific application of Pb, Hg, Cd, Cr+6 are exempted from the requirement of ROHS in the following;
1. Hg in compact fluorescent lamps not exceeding 5 mg per lamp.
2. Hg in straight fluorescent lamps for general purposes not exceeding
• 10 mg in halophosphate lamps
• 5 mg in triphosphate lamps with normal life time
• 8 mg in triphosphate with a long life time
(the color properties of straight fluorescent lamps are determined by the phosphors used to coat the inside of the tube)
3. Hg in the straight fluorescent lamps for special purposes (e.g. medical lamp used for disinfection, there is no restriction in the use of Hg in these lamps)
4. Hg in other lamps not specifically mentioned in this annex.
5. Lead in glass of cathode ray tubes, electronic components and fluorescent tubes.
• Lead oxide used in glass for radiation protection, filtering, etc.
• No alternative have yet been identified
• The exemption only applies to lead in the glass parts of cathode ray tube and etc.
6. Lead as an alloying element in steel containing up to 0.35% Pb by wt., Al containing up to 0.4% by wt., and Cu as alloy containing up Pb by wt.
• Pb is used in various metallic alloy to achieve certain metallurgical property.
• The percentage by wt should be calculated based on per homogenous material per discreet part.
7. (a) Pb in high melting temperature type solders (i.e. in lead solder alloys containing more than 85% Pb)
• Mainly used in wafer chips manufacturing
• Provide unique mechanical property and high electrical conductivity
• Viable lead free alternative have not yet been identified.
(b) Pb in solders for servers, storage and storage array system (exemption granted until 2010)
(c) Pb in solders for network infrastructure equipment for switching, signaling, transmission as well as network management for telecommunications
(d) Pb (e.g.. lead zirconate) in electronic ceramic parts (e.g. piezoelectronic devices, capacitor)
8. Cadmium plating except for applications banned under Directive 91/338/EC amending Directive 76/769/EC relating to restrictions on the marketing and use of certain dangerous substances and preparations.
• Deposit coating of metallic cadmium on a metallic surface is not allowed
• Permitted for use if cadmium plating is for “electric contact” and high reliability of the electrical equipment is required.
9. Hexavalent chromium as an anti- corrosion of the carbon steel cooling system in absorption refrigerator.

The other is Directive 2002/96/EC or the Directive on Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE). This directive refers to the recyclability of the electronic equipment and to address/ reduce the waste management problems linked to the heavy metals concerned and the flame retardants concerned. The scope of this directive are the following;
1. Large household appliances such as refrigerators, washing machines, microwaves, air conditioners, etc.
2. Small household appliances such as iron, toasters, fryers, hair dryers, grinder etc.
3. IT, telecommunication equipment such as computers, laptops, copiers, printers, mouse, typewriters, etc.
4. Consumer equipment such as television, radio, video cameras, hi- fi musical instruments etc.
5. Lighting equipments such as luminaries, fluorescent lamps, high intensity discharge lamps etc.
6. Electrical and electronic tools, (with exception of large scale stationary industrial tools)
7. Toys, leisure and sport such as video games console, rackets, coin slot machine etc.
8. Medical devices ( with exception of all implanted and infected products) such as radiotheraphy, cardiology, dialysis machine ventilators, etc.
9. Monitoring and Control Instruments such as smoke detector, thermostat, heating regulators, weighing appliances, etc.
10. Automatic dispensers such as dispenser for hot/ cold drinks, for solid products, for money, etc.

These directives have bestowed an indirect responsibility to all manufacturers, suppliers, sellers, producers exporting in Europe to protect the human life and the environment. Eventually it brings forth awareness to all manufacturers, producers and exporters to all parts on the world. Furthermore, these directives requires mandatory compliance so as them not to end up like SONY. It can be recalled that on Oct. 2001, Sony shipments were halted by Netherlads Governement because of excess of cadmium element present in one of the cables shipped by Sony (Cadmium plating covered by Directive 91/338/EEC amending Directive 76/769/EEC). This non- compliance cost Sony 90 million British pound and PR damage. Sony found out that the element came from one of their suppliers. This non- compliance should serve as a lesson to all manufacturers.

Upon release of the directives, major exporters to Europe have started their environmental compliance. Japan which is world’s number one developer manufacturer of electronic components and PCBs and the entire electronic assembly industry has begun to pursue aggressively the removal of lead from their manufacturing process. In 1998, Japanese government increased levies for recycling leaded equipments. Other nations have also started eradicating hazardous substances in their processes. Through compliance to the environment- friendly measures by all nations comprising the world, the realization of a healthier, cleaner and greener earth is not far from reality.


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