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Two new items of European Union environmental legislation will be introduced into Member States from mid 2005 onwards. They will contribute towards a better environment but will have significant implications for electrical and electronics companies in terms of marketing, design, manufacturing and "end-of-life" recovery and recycling. The Directives on Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE), 2002/96/EC, and the Restriction of Use of Certain Hazardous Substances (RoHS), 2002/95/EC, will require "producers" to recycle waste electrical/electronic equipment and remove certain hazardous substances.
Producers in this context means the people on EU soil who offer the equipment for sale. In the case of equipment manufactured outside the EU, the importer, or sales representative, who places the equipment on the market is the producer. Technology International can help you to comply.
The WEEE Directive aims to prevent WEEE arising, to encourage reuse, recycling and recovery of WEEE and to improve the environmental performance of all operators involved in the lifecycle of electrical and electronic equipment, especially those dealing with WEEE. The Directive sets requirements relating to criteria for the collection, treatment, recycling and recovery of WEEE. It makes producers responsible for financing most of these activities; retailers/distributors also have responsibilities in terms of the take-back of WEEE and the provision of certain information.
Entry into force
The main requirements and obligations were scheduled to become mandatory from 13 August 2005 onwards and some specific actions, e.g. producer registration and reporting of data on equipment placed on the market, were scheduled to be started from January 2005 onwards. However, many EU Member States have encountered major practical difficulties in meeting the Directive's legal deadline of 13 August 2005 for implementation of their obligations on producers and retailers. Some, e.g. UK, have delayed implementation of all of the Directive's obligations unit 1 Jan 2006 but intend to require the marking of relevant equipment on schedule on 13 August 2005, including the marking to show whether it is put on the market after this date.
Scope of the WEEE Directive
These Regulations apply to all electrical and electronic equipment powered at up to 1000Vac or 1500Vdc and placed on the market in EU Member States falling into any of ten product categories, unless the equipment is part of another type of equipment which does not fall into any of these categories. The ten product categories are mainly but not exclusively consumer products, but some industrial products are also in the scope.
Exceptions to the WEEE Directive
The Directive's requirements do not apply to:
Requirements of the WEEE Directive
The main requirements of the WEEE Directive are mainly the responsibility of producers and retailers/distributors as follows.
Producers and Importers
The producer or importer must ensure that with effect from 13 August 2005 new equipment they put onto the EU market is marked with:
The Restriction of Hazardous Substances in Electrical and Electronic Equipment (RoHS) Directive (2002/95/EC) affects manufacturers, sellers, distributors and recyclers of electrical and electronic equipment containing lead, mercury, cadmium, hexavalent chromium, polybrominated biphenyls or polybrominated diphenyl ethers. The RoHS Directive covers the same scope as the WEEE Directive except for medical devices and monitoring and control instruments. It also applies to electric light bulbs and light fittings in households. It aims to protect human health and the environment by restricting the use of certain hazardous substances in new equipment and to complement the WEEE Directive.
Key Elements of RoHS Directive
From 1 July 2006, producers of new electrical and electronic equipment must demonstrate that their products do not contain more than the maximum permitted levels of:
These must be replaced by other substances.
Certain applications are exempt from the requirements of the Directive including mercury in certain types of fluorescent lamps, lead in the glass of cathode ray tubes, electronic components and fluorescent tubes, lead in electronic ceramic parts, lead in certain types of solder and hexavalent chromium as an anti-corrosion treatment of the carbon steel cooling system in absorption refrigerators. The exemptions will be reviewed every four years.
The European Commission's Technical Adaptation Committee (TAC) was tasked with defining the maximum permitted concentrations of the materials listed above when used in new electrical and electronic equipment with effect from 1 July 2006. The draft Commission Decision on this was submitted to the EU Environment Council in September 2004 and in the absence of a formal response from the Council, the draft Decision was adopted in December. These will be: 1000ppm (0.1%) except for cadmium which will be 100ppm (0.01%).
Entry into Force
Member States are required to enact the requirements of the RoHS Directive into national law by 13 August 2004 with a date for mandatory compliance of 1 July 2006. As in the case of the WEEE Regulations, many have not achieved this timescale but with a later date for mandatory compliance, national RoHS Regulations are likely to be enforced on time.
Technology International offers to assist you with your applicability assessment and compliance plan. The plan would be to review your product range for its applicability and your sales and marketing chains, in order to plan the activities that will be needed to enable compliance to be achieved. Working back from the 1st July 2006 mandatory compliance date, if products have to be redesigned, alternative component suppliers found, stocks replaced, drawings and bills of material updated etc. then the sooner the work starts the better.
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