China Releases its Own RoHS Directive
China has issued its long-anticipated law governing the content of electronic products. Like the European Union's RoHS directive, the deadline to comply with China's regulations is July 1, 2006. The notification of the law was released by the World Trade Organization in late September and will be adopted as law at the end of 2005.
The deadline leaves little time for OEMs to gear up for the summer 2006 deadline. The rules are similar to the RoHS restrictions on hazardous materials with some notable exceptions. The notification lists five of the six RoHS substances (lead, mercury, cadmium, PPB and PBDE), but it also includes the nebulous "and other toxic and harmful substances." The details will be spelled out in a catalog, but the notification gave no date by which the catalog will be available.
China's law is potentially more challenging to OEMs than the RoHS directive, since China plans to update its catalog of hazardous substances annually. RoHS rules will be updated every four years. China's rules require OEMs to state the "safe-use life," of products, meaning the length of time the product can be used without risk of toxic and hazardous substances leaking out. The China law further requires OEMs to provide the names and content of toxic and harmful substances contained in each product with recovery marks clearly indicated on the products. Interestingly, products produced for export are exempt from the law.
New Car Smell May Be Toxic
The fragrance of a new car is intoxicating, perhaps literally. The Associated Press reports that Japanese automakers, including Toyota, have set an industry-wide goal of eliminating that smell. The new car scent is produced by volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are essentially fumes from glues, paint and plastics. Those chemicals can produce headaches, sore throats, nausea and drowsiness, similar to sick-building syndrome.
A study by Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization notes that sitting in a new car can subject passengers to toxic emissions that are several times higher than the limits deemed safe for homes or offices. The fumes will dissipate over six months. In response, Japanese automakers have agreed to cut the cabin level of 13 VOCs by 2007. European and American automakers are expected to follow suit.
U.K. Prefers Green Products
Analysts in the electronics industry have called for OEMs to tout the green qualities of their new products. Perhaps marketing executives should start taking lunch with those in the corporate responsibility group. Consumers apparently prefer green. A study produced by the U.K.'s Ethical Corp. reveals that 51 percent of U.K. consumers have made a purchase based on environmental or social considerations. Likewise, bad environmental information puts off consumers. More than two thirds of respondents said they have stopped buying a brand based on negative information.
SLIME BUSTER: Episode 5
New game, new questions. Test your knowledge of RoHS and environ- mental regulations that impact design engineers and save the world from the clutches of the evil Dr. Slime at http://rbi.ims.ca/4401-503.