Tightening industry standards and law and regulation changes on several levels have made it even more critical for companies to comply with new disclosure rules surrounding their products.
RoHS compliance is something that many companies struggle with; indeed, many company owners continue to wonder what RoHS is, let alone which products fall under it or which of their departments is best positioned to handle RoHS compliance. This article will attempt to shed some light.
RoHS, or Restrictions of Hazardous Substances covers usage restrictions for six materials in electronic and electrical equipment. These materials are considered to be very harmful to the environment. As such, RoHS aims to ensure that these substances are restricted from being used in the manufacture of products, or are properly collected and recycled if they do contain them. These materials are lead, mercury, cadmium, hexavalent chromium, polybrominated biphenyls, and polybrominated diphenyl ethers. Any new equipment containing levels beyond those outlined in the RoHS are banned from the market.
No Specific Labelling Required
Manufacturers need not place their own marks on their products, as RoHS doesn’t require this. However, many companies continue to create their own labels, which has caused some confusion. Some of the more common RoHS compliance security labels are a tick mark or leaf symbol containing the compliance declaration. Many RoHS symbols currently in use are green in colour.
Companies apply their own labelling in order to make it easier for both the import and export of their products, as well as for selling. The RoHS compliance label allows products to make it to market more quickly, as well as increases confidence in the minds of consumers who purchase them.
The WEEE Connection
RoHS and WEEE are linked, as RoHS aims to reduce the amount of waste the electronics post-use industry produces, and WEEE is concerned with meeting collection, recycling and recovery targets. WEEE harmonises the reporting and registration obligations for electrics and electronics producers.
Products whose packaging is discarded once the product has been purchased do not fall under RoHS regulations. However, if the packaging of a product is going to remain with that product or forms part of the product, it may be required to comply. However, compliance is not all-encompassing; each product will need to be assessed individually.
Where product packaging is concerned, the responsibility lies both on the shoulders of product suppliers and manufacturers, as well as on consumers. Suppliers and sellers of these products should either declare or be prepared to declare any potential hazardous substances their packaging may contain. Customers must make themselves aware of RoHS regulations and actively look for compliance labels, as well as any ingredients which may appear suspicious.
The reason it’s so important to comply with RoHS is because the costs of non-compliance can be enormous. Severe penalties are in place for those who don’t comply. Some of these penalties include loss of right to sell products, the impounding of products and fines. Beyond this is the negative press and media coverage in relation to violations, as well as a related loss of market share.
The effects of non-compliance can reach well into the supply chain, right to suppliers who manufacture the components found in many products. This is causing many companies to execute due diligence and investigate their suppliers to confirm compliance. As result, companies are taking things a step further and showing their customers that due diligence has not only been carried out, but that the information about materials being used in their products has been obtained, selective analysis and sampling has been done, and declarations from suppliers about their components’ contents received.
Technology continues to advance, and its use increase. The costs to purchase technology continues to fall, and as it does, the idea of a disposable society becomes more acceptable. However, where does this leave our environment for future generations? It is this question that RoHS legislation aims to answer.