RoHS came into effect in 2003, restricting the use of certain hazardous materials in electrical goods entering into landfill sites. The EU legislation applied to any products sold or used within the EU after 2006 with some exemptions. The directive was updated in 2013 to include the CE marking requirement, as well as more detailed technical information requirements.

Any company that manufactures or sells electrical or electronic products, equipment, subassemblies, cables, components, or spare parts to countries within the EU are required to comply with the EU legalization RoHS. It included toys, leisure equipment, lifts, lighting, large and small home appliances to name a few everyday items. Whether the company is a direct seller, a reseller, distributor, or integrators that sell products to EU countries they are still required to comply with the legislation. Regardless of the country of manufacture, all companies selling within the EU are affected.

RoHS specifies the levels of hazardous materials within the products, with the original RoHS directive applying to 6 substances, and the additional four are added in RoHS 3. Products must be tested and reports provided that specify the exact levels of each substance. Substances cannot go above the following levels:

  •    Mercury (Hg): < 100 ppm
  •    Lead (Pb): < 1000 ppm
  •    Cadmium (Cd): < 100 ppm
  •    Hexavalent Chromium: (Cr VI) < 1000 ppm
  •    Polybrominated Biphenyls (PBB): < 1000 ppm
  •    Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDE): < 1000 ppm
  •    Benzyl butyl phthalate (BBP): < 1000 ppm
  •    Bis(2-Ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP): < 1000 ppm
  •    Dibutyl phthalate (DBP): < 1000 ppm
  •    Diisobutyl phthalate (DIBP): < 1000 ppm

Any companies that do not manufacture or only sell products not containing electronics or electrical components are not required to comply with RoHS.

The cost of non-compliance

Even if a product contains a limited amount of cabling or a battery pack, the seller needs to assure that it complies with the RoHS requirements. The cost of non-compliance can be expensive and detrimental to the selling ability of a company. Penalties can include fines, compounded goods, and the loss of the right to sell within the EU leading to a loss of market share. If a product is identified to not comply, the country in which the offense is discovered has the right to place the levy against the seller.

Non-compliance consequences don’t just affect the end seller but those within its supply chain as well. If any of those supplying materials for the end product do not comply, the end sellers are at risk of receiving levies for not managing their supply chain. Due to this, sellers are being more careful about the companies they add to their supply chain in to avoid the levies. They are requesting documentation to prove compliance, including lab reports and materials declarations. On the other hand, suppliers who have had sales effected by the legislation are starting to produce substance-free components, and those who cannot afford to make the swap are making the components obsolete – causing issues for their buyers who now need to find alternative suppliers or components.

In short, any company who has an input with an electronic product, and its components are required to comply with RoHS from supplier to reseller.