RoHS – Restriction of Hazardous Substances

The UK RoHS Regulations were introduced in 2006 and updated in 2012 as ‘The Restriction of the Use of Certain Hazardous Substances in Electrical and Electronic Equipment Regulations 2012’ (SI 2012 no 3032), which came into force on 2 January 2013. They implement an EU Directive that aims to reduce the environmental damage caused by Electrical and Electronic Equipment (EEE) when they reach end of life. In particular, the Directive limits levels of Lead, Mercury, Cadmium, Hexavalent Chromium, Polybrominated Biphenyls and Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers allowed in EEE.
Who is obligated?
All organisations who produce, import or distribute Electrical and Electronic Equipment (EEE). Organisations with RoHS obligations may also have to comply with WEEE and Battery requirements.

The law affects all companies who:

  • Manufacture EEE in the UK (Manufacturer obligations)
  • Import EEE into the EU (Importer obligations. Note: May have manufacturer obligations in some situations)
  • Export EEE from the UK to other EU Member States (Must comply with requirements in the other Member State(s))
  • Rebrand other manufacturers EEE as their own (Manufacturer obligations)
  • Sell EEE in the UK (Distributor obligations)
EEE included in one of 10 named categories: Large household appliances; Small household appliances; IT and Telecommunications equipment; Consumer equipment; Lighting equipment; Electrical and electronic tools (excluding certain large-scale industrial tools); Toys, leisure and sports equipment; Medical devices* (other than implanted and infected products); Monitoring and control instruments**; Automatic dispensers. A ‘catch-all’ category 11 of ‘Other EEE not covered by any of the categories above’ comes into force in July 2019.
*Medical devices (excluding in vitro) from 22 July 2014; In vitro devices from 22 July 2016.
**Domestic monitoring and control instruments from 22 July 2014; Industrial monitoring and control instruments from 22 July 2017.

Manufacturers must:

  1. Ensure that EEE they produce meets the substance thresholds;
  2. Comply with the internal production control requirements of the ‘common framework for the marketing of products’ (Decision 768/2008/EC);
  3. Draw up technical documentation to support self-declaration;
  4. Draw up an EU declaration of conformity for each compliant product, translating it into the language of each Member State in which the product is available;
  5. Keep the technical documentation and declaration of conformity for at least ten years from the date the product was first placed on the market;
  6. Affix CE markings to each compliant product;
  7. Ensure that conformity is maintained throughout ‘series’ production;
  8. Ensure that the compliant products have information on them (or if size/nature prevent this, the packaging of the products) to identity the type, batch/serial number and manufacturer (including contact address);
  9. Keep a register of any non-compliant EEE produced and of any EEE recalled for non-compliance;
  10. Cooperate with the UK authorities (or other Member State authorities if appropriate) to demonstrate compliance;
  11. Advise authorities of their EEE suppliers (if appropriate) and customers if requested to do so.

Importers must:

  1. Ensure that EEE they import meets the substance thresholds;
    Ensure the manufacturer complies with requirements 2-9 above;
  2. Ensure that if they become aware of non-compliant EEE they inform the manufacturer and the UK authorities;
  3. Keep a register of any non-compliant EEE they place on the market and any non-compliant EEE they recall;
  4. Provide details of non-compliant EEE to relevant distributors;
  5. Take appropriate remedial action regarding the non-compliant EEE, recording the action and advising the UK authorities of the non-compliance and the corrective action taken;
  6. Cooperate with the UK authorities (or other Member State authorities if appropriate) to demonstrate compliance;
  7. Advise authorities of their EEE suppliers and customers if requested to do so.

NOTE: Where an importer places ‘own brand’ imported product on the market, they assume manufacturer, not importer, obligations.

Distributors must:

  1. Not make obligated EEE available if they believe it is non-compliant, informing the importer or manufacturer (as appropriate) and the UK authorities;
  2. Take appropriate remedial action regarding the non-compliant EEE, recording the action and advising the UK authorities of the non-compliance and the corrective action taken;
  3. Cooperate with the UK authorities (or other Member State authorities if appropriate) to demonstrate compliance;

Advise authorities of their EEE suppliers and customers if requested to do so.

A number of criminal offences are possible, including:

  • Placing non-compliant EEE on the market;
  • Failing to take appropriate corrective action where necessary;
  • Failing to advise others (including the authorities) of non-compliant EEE;
  • Failing to keep technical documentation and declarations of conformity;
  • Failing to keep a register of non-compliant and recalled products;
  • Failing to cooperate with authorities; and
  • Falsely using a CE mark.

Penalties are currently up to £5,000 per offence with the possibility of unlimited fines and imprisonment for directors/statutory officers in some cases. RoHS offences are subject to criminal prosecution as they do not currently fall under the Civil Sanctions regime.

A defence of ‘due diligence’ is possible if you can show that you have taken all reasonable steps to be compliant.

Think your company may be obligated, but not compliant? If your company is obligated but not compliant you are seriously exposed to the risk of prosecution by the enforcement agencies. Non-compliance is an offence under criminal law and prosecution carries substantial penalties of fines plus costs, as well as legal fees, adverse publicity and considerable senior management input. We recommend you urgently take expert advice to protect your company.

Let us help you find the most cost effective way of complying with these Regulations.
Contact J Williams & Associates’ RoHS expert on 01488 649685 or email Jeff Williams for advice.

Who enforces RoHS? RoHS is enforced throughout the UK by the National Measurements Office. The boxes below provide more details about the key definitions (including restricted substances) and of the exclusions from scope.
Manufacturer:
A person who manufactures EEE or who has EEE designed or manufactured, marketing it under their own name or trademark.
Importer:
A person established within the EU who places EEE from a third country on the EU market.
Distributor:
A person in the supply chain, other than a manufacturer or importer, who makes EEE available on the market.
CE Marking:
A marking by which the manufacturer indicates that a product complies with the requirements, in the form set out in Annex II of Regulation (EC) No 765/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council.
Place on the Market:
Make EEE available on the EU market for the first time.
Homogeneous materials:
One material of uniform composition throughout or a material, consisting of a combination of materials, that cannot be disjointed or separated into different materials by mechanical actions such as unscrewing, cutting , crushing, grinding and abrasive practices.
Restricted substances:
Maximum permitted concentrations are:
0.1% by weight in homogeneous materials for Lead, Mercury, Hexavalent Chromium, Polybrominated Biphenyls (PBB) and Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers(PBDE);
0.01% by weight in homogeneous materials for Cadmium.
Exclusions by use:
Equipment necessary for national security, including arms, munitions and war material, where these items are specifically intended for military purposes;
Equipment designed to be sent into space;
Equipment specifically designed to be part of equipment to which RoHS does not apply, which can only fulfil its function as part of that equipment and can only be replaced by the same specifically designed equipment;
Exclusions by type:
Large scale stationary industrial tools;
Large scale fixed installations;
Transport (persons or goods), other than electric two-wheeled vehicles which are not type-approved;
Non-road mobile machinery made available exclusively for professional use;
Active implantable medical devices;
Photovoltaic panels intended to be used in a system that is designed, assembled and installed by professionals for permanent use at a defined location to produce energy from solar light for public, commercial, industrial and residential applications;
Equipment designed solely for the purposes of research and development only made available on a business-to-business basis.
Exemptions
Annex III of the Directive contains extensive lists of very specific exemptions from RoHS. The list is frequently updated and the best way to keep up to date with the current list of exemptions is to visit the EU RoHS website.

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