On November 30 2011 it was announced that the European Commission has begun its work on the impact assessment study being carried out for the EU Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) II Directive (2011/65/EU) on the restriction of the use of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment. The commission had planned an extensive study into the RoHS II Directive in order to extend its scope and include new products and product categories which had been excluded from RoHS I and ensuing recast proposals.

Pursuant to this new study, the product scope (as broadly contained in Annex I of the new directive) is expected to be widened, encompassing newer product categories which were previously excluded. Although the scope of the directive may be extended even further by future study and public consultations, the commission has already published a draft up-to-date product scope.

The draft updated scope includes new product categories and incorporates a number of new products:

  • Category 7 – "Toys, leisure and sports equipment" – now includes "toys with minor electrical functions" as a new product category. Products incorporated under this new category include "talking teddy bears" and "shoes with light functions".
  • Category 11 – "Other electrical and electronic equipment" – now includes "clothes with electrical function" as a new product category, as well as "power switches" and "electric powered suitcases". Products incorporated under this new category include "heated clothing" and "lifejackets which light up in water".
  • Category 4 – "Consumer equipment" – now includes "furniture with electrical function" as a new product category. Products incorporated under this new category include "reclining beds" and "reclining chairs".
  • Category 1 – "Large household appliances" – now includes "gas hobs", "gas ovens" and "gas heaters" as new product categories. Products incorporated under this new category include "grills", "water heaters" and "wood or oil burning Aga" which are gas powered.

The breadth of the impact assessment study also includes an analysis of how compliance with the RoHS concentration limits for the restricted substances can be made more workable. Concerns have been raised that the concentration limit threshold for restricted substances is too restrictive, especially when applied to coatings and very small components.
Companies will want to keep abreast of any developments regarding the assessment of RoHS concentration limits, since it will likely have a significant effect on their obligations under the new RoHS Directive. Manufacturers will have to be particularly aware of how any change in applying the concentration limits will affect their internal control production procedure, as well as their requirements for ensuring that series production remains in conformity.

At present, the commission is involved in the public consultation with relevant stakeholders as part of this study. The consultation includes collecting data on the costs of complying with the directive, including information about the cost of converting product designs, as well as data to help evaluate the benefits of reducing the level of hazardous substances in products.

Further information on the public consultation, including the relevant dates and locations, can be accessed at http://rohs.biois.com/project-planning.

The commission intends the consultation process with stakeholders to end by no later than April 2012 and aims to publish its final report (including the revised impact assessment) by July 6 2012. The RoHS II Directive can be accessed at http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ%3AL%3A2011%3A174%3A0088%3A0110%3AEN%3APDF.

For further information on this topic please contact Reshad Forbes at Van Bael & Bellis by telephone (+32 2 647 73 50), fax (+32 2 640 64 99) or email ([email protected]).