Now that the July 1, 2006 RoHS deadline is here, we will begin to see how the European Union (EU) plans to police its restrictions on hazardous substances in electronic products. Some manufacturers expect – or hope – the EU will be easy on product inspections for the first few months. This is the dreamy thinking of executives whose products are late to compliance. A closer look at EU regulation history shows tough, serious enforcers.
Here’s the likely scenario as EU regulators wake up on June 1 and get to work enforcing RoHS. The enforcing agency gets a call on July 1 from Manufacturer A, a company that has been very diligent about complying with RoHS. This manufacturer has spent consider resources to ensure its products are beyond reproach. The company has given up 1.5 percent of its annual income, a hefty blow to the company’s bottom line. Meanwhile that manufacturer’s closest rival, Manufacturer B, has cut corners on compliance. Over the past two years, the slack approach to compliance has given Manufacturer B an edge in the market. Manufacturer A, tips the enforcer that the products produced by Manufacturer B are very likely out of compliance.
Dirty pool? You betcha. This happened to Sony eight years ago. You can bet it’s going to happen going to happen on a large scale this summer.