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New RoHS Amending Law Bans Further Substances from Electrical and Electronic Equipment

On 4 June 2015, the EU’s Official Journal published an important new law that will have to be taken into account by Hong Kong’s electronic goods manufacturers exporting to the European Union. New Commission Delegated Directive 2015/863 amends the framework RoHS Directive (Directive 2011/65/EU on the restriction of hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment (EEE)) by banning four more substances from EEE destined for the EU market.

Virtually all electrical appliances and electronic goods are subject to the RoHS restrictions. Hong Kong traders will have had to comply with the EU Member States’ national laws implementing the RoHS Directive since well over a decade.

Essentially, until now, the RoHS Directive has banned six hazardous substances in all EEE, unless certain express exemptions apply. The six substances are: lead, mercury, cadmium, hexavalent chromium, polybrominated biphenyls (PBB) and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE).

In 2011, a new (recast) RoHS Directive was published, with an EU-wide implementation date of 2 January 2013. However, while the recast law set out several tough amendments to the original law, the list of banned substances remained the same. Only now, with the adoption of the new Directive, has this list been extended.
 
New Directive 2015/863 states that Bis(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), Butyl benzyl phthalate (BBP), Dibutyl phthalate (DBP) and Diisobutyl phthalate (DIBP) are substances of very high concern (SVHC) and were subject to a thorough assessment. It notes that DIBP is a substance that can be used as a substitute for DBP, and was also subject to previous assessments performed by the Commission.

The available evidence indicates that those four substances (all of which are phthalates), when used in EEE, can have a negative impact on recycling, and on human health and the environment during EEE waste management operations. It also indicates that substitutes that have less negative impacts are available for DEHP, BBP, DBP and DIBP in most EEE.

Hong Kong’s toy exporters will be well aware that DEHP, BBP and DBP are already restricted through entry 51 of Annex XVII to the REACH Regulation, so that toys containing DEHP, BBP or DBP in a concentration greater than 0.1% by weight of the plasticised material, calculated for the three phthalates cumulatively, cannot be placed on the EU market. The new law states that, in order to avoid double regulation, the restriction through entry 51 of Annex XVII of REACH shall therefore continue to be the only restriction applicable to DEHP, BBP and DBP in toys.

The Annex to the new Directive sets out the extended list of banned substances, together with maximum permitted concentration values, tolerated by weight in homogenous materials (the last four below are the new entries on the list):

  • Lead (0.1%)
  • Mercury (0.1%)
  • Cadmium (0.01%)
  • Hexavalent chromium (0.1%)
  • Polybrominated biphenyls (PBB) (0.1%)
  • Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE) (0.1%)
  • Bis(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) (0.1%)
  • Butyl benzyl phthalate (BBP) (0.1%)
  • Dibutyl phthalate (DBP) (0.1%)
  • Diisobutyl phthalate (DIBP) (0.1%)

The above list replaces the one contained in Annex II of the framework RoHS Directive. The new Directive also provides for periods of transition (depending on the EEE), which will be helpful to Hong Kong manufacturers, to amend their own production processes so as to exclude the newly banned substances from their EEE. Thus:

  • Member States have to adopt and publish, by 31 December 2016, their transposition of new Directive 2015/863. They must apply the new provisions from 22 July 2019.
  • However, the restriction of DEHP, BBP, DBP and DIBP will apply to medical devices – including in vitro medical devices – and monitoring and control instruments – including industrial monitoring and control instruments – from 22 July 2021.
  • The restriction of DEHP, BBP, DBP and DIBP will not apply to cables or spare parts for the repair, the reuse, the updating of functionalities or upgrading of capacity of EEE placed on the market before 22 July 2019, and of medical devices, including in vitro medical devices, and monitoring and control instruments, including industrial monitoring and control instruments, placed on the market before 22 July 2021.

The transition periods will also allow companies to apply for exemptions from the substance restrictions, wherever duly justified. Article 5 of the framework RoHS Directive (2011/65/EU) sets out the provision for exempted applications and the circumstances in which they can be applied for.

Please click the following link to read:
Commission Delegated Directive 2015/863
The RoHS Directive (Directive 2011/65/EU)

Content provided by Picture: HKTDC Research
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