RoHS Impact Assessment Published: Key Findings & Recommendations
Authored by RINA. This blog first appeared on C2P
The RoHS study to support the assessment of impacts associated with the general review of Directive 2011/65/EU was published in May 2023, which although titled as the Final report also makes note that the findings are preliminary only.
Areas To Review To Improve RoHS Impact Effectiveness
- The study reviews the following key areas to see if the effectiveness of RoHS can be improved:
- Increasing the transparency and clarity of the exemption process, including the guidance material, and tracking of exemptions status.
- Clarifying how restricted substances are added to RoHS. With the responsibility possibly passed to ECHA, but at a minimum should outline a procedure and the timeframe for periodic review. Considering previous substance reviews under RoHS have come under considerable criticism, this is anticipated to be welcomed by all stakeholders. The process may be aligned to REACH with the creation of a ‘list of intentions’ based on suggestions made by Member States as to the substances which should be added although other methods are also considered.
- Recovery of spare parts by considering if spare parts can be recovered from parts not placed on the EU market and thus allow spare parts from any device.
- Consistency with other recycling-related legislation by amending the brominated flame retardant permissible level to be consistent with the Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) Regulation (500ppm or 0.05%).
- Changing the Directive into a Regulation to increase the efficiency of transition into Member State law, which can take up to 12 months to implement and saving a considerable amount as to date the amendments for all Member States are estimated to cost up to €22.5 million.
- Including photovoltaic panels to stimulate the development of RoHS substance free alternatives. In the short term this may potentially require a host of new exemptions.
Considerations for Exemption Process and Evaluation
The exemption process is currently a high administrative burden and as such the validity periods and transition periods may be adapted, with the former potentially being correlated with the technology readiness level of the alternative or a new maximum of 10 years permitted. The criteria by which exemptions are evaluated, especially those relating to socio- economic factors and the life-cycle assessment process (LCA), may be reviewed to give guidance on how much higher negative impacts need to be in comparison to positive ones to permit an exemption to be permitted on this basis.
There is also consideration that the exemption renewal process may be passed to the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) as it is seen as ‘the most logical choice’ for the management and review of the exemptions (ECHA administers the EU REACH regulation). This suggestion is contentious and there are concerns raised by stakeholders whether the current staff within ECHA would have relevant expertise for all tasks at hand, or if consultants would still need to be appointed. Another consideration is additional resourcing, probably on a temporary basis, to address peaks in workload within the Commission. This consideration has the potential to trigger the levying of fees for exemption applications with suggestions that €1,000 would be appropriate, although only 10% of respondents indicated they would be willing to pay a fee.
There is also consideration as to whether a de minimis value, potentially correlated to 25g per annum (the smallest amount of hazardous substance placed on the market under an exemption), could be added to remove the need for some exemptions or at least permit them for 10 years, and potentially help with some research and development opportunities.
Potential Changes To RoHS
The report considers the ability of the inclusion of the obligations under RoHS to be included in REACH but makes note that significant changes would be required to facilitate this and does not outline any clear overall benefits of such a change.
Overall, the report explores many of the concerns stakeholders have about RoHS and starts to examine potential ways in which they can be resolved. As the report only starts to explore the potential options it can only be assumed that there will be subsequent reports and recommendations as a result of this analysis, however the timeline for this is unknown.
Stay Up To Date On Global Chemical Regulations
For more analysis of the RoHS impact assessment report, check out or blog “Wither The RoHS Recast?”
For a comprehensive update on the latest proposed and enacted news on permitted, restricted and prohibited substances in a variety of products from around the world, watch our Quarterly Chemicals webinar For Q2 2023 here.
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