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WEEE and RoHS Directives

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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.

WEEE Directive

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:

  • equipment intended specifically to protect the UK national interest and for a military purpose,
    e.g arms, munitions and war material;
  • filament light bulbs;
  • household luminaries;
  • large-scale stationary industrial tools;
  • implanted medical equipment and infected medical equipment at end-of-life.

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

  • producers must be registered with Member State Government authorities by 13 August 2005. The first registration period is expected to be between January 2005 - 12 August 2005;
     
  • producers will be required to report sales data to Government authorities in order for their market shares to be calculated. The first data report should be provided between January 2005 - 12 August 2005;
     
  • producers have responsibility from 13 August 2005 for financing the collection, recovery and recycling of separately collected WEEE allocated to them according to their market shares. They must report evidence of its treatment at authorised treatment facilities, according to the Member State's treatment guidance. They must also report evidence that they have met the Directive's recovery and recycling/reuse targets for the separately collected WEEE allocated to them;
     
  • producers will also be required to mark new equipment they put onto the EU market, according to the Directive's requirements; and to provide certain information, as far as this is needed, on types of new equipment they put on the market, to facilitate the treatment and recovery of WEEE;
     
  • producers supplying new equipment to business users after 13 August 2005 will need to finance the treatment, recovery and disposal of the waste arising from this equipment unless they make alternative arrangements with the business users. Those producers who have supplied equipment to business users prior to 13 August 2005 have this responsibility for this equipment if it is discarded when they supply new replacement like for like equipment; if there is no replacement purchase, the business user is responsible for financing the treatment and recovery of the equipment purchased prior to 13 August 2005; and
     
  • whichever party takes responsibility will need to report evidence of its collection, treatment and recovery to Government authorities according to the Directive's recovery and recycling/reuse targets. The recovery targets stated in Article 7 of the Directive shall be met by 31 December 2006. The producer must submit a certificate to this effect every year. The treatment requirements for WEEE are specified in Article 6 of the Directive and the particular materials and components that must be removed from any separately collected WEEE are listed at Annex II of the Directive.

Markings

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 symbol indicating separate collection for WEEE consisting of a crossed-out wheelie bin;
  • date of supply; and
  • the producer's identity by means of his trade mark, brand name, company registration
    number or other unique reference.


RoHS DIRECTIVE

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:

  • lead, including lead/tin solder,
  • mercury,
  • cadmium,
  • hexavalent chromium,
  • polybrominated biphenyls (PBBs) or
  • polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs).

These must be replaced by other substances.

Exemptions

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.

Maximum Concentrations

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.

COMPLIANCE STRATEGY

Deadlines

  • Early 2005 - Publication of outstanding Member State implementing legislation
  • August 13, 2005 - Producers must have made arrangements to manage and fund their WEEE in all Member States in which they sell their products. Products supplied after this date must be marked
  • July 1, 2006 - Products cannot be supplied after this date if they do not comply with RoHS requirements
  • December 31, 2006 - Producers must be able to demonstrate that they are meeting recovery and recycling targets

Compliance Plan

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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