In a blog in the UK-based Electronic Weekly, Gary Nevison, legislation and Environmental affairs manager, at the UK-based components distributor Premier Farnell gives a detailed look at development in the RoHS recast. Here are Nevison’s comments:
The Council of Ministers working group has continued to discuss the scope of the RoHS recast, substance restrictions and exemptions. The European Parliament Environment Committee (ENVI) has also had extensive discussions led by Member of the European Parliament and rapporteur Gill Evans. ENVI has also discussed scope, exclusions and substance restrictions but has also considered many of the definitions.
Progress in Council discussions is as follows:
Scope - An open scope (Category 11 that covers all electrical and electronic equipment not captured in Categories 1 to 10) with exclusions is the preferred option for all but four Member States. With an open scope, exclusions will be needed and the following are proposed:
- large scale industrial stationary tools (LSIT),
- large scale industrial fixed installations,
- motor driven transport equipment and non-road mobile machinery
- Active implantable medical devices
- Equipment that is part of other equipment that is outside scope
- Musical pipe organs
The exact wording of these and other definitions are still under discussion.
Substance restrictions - Most Member States agree with the Commission’s proposals to restrict additional substances through a comitology procedure based on the processes used for REACH substance restrictions. REACH is based on proven risk to health and / or the environment, whereas RoHS is based on potential risk even without full assessment.
Exemptions - Details of the procedure are being discussed including a maximum expiry period of six years instead of four years proposed by the Commission although some States prefer longer.
The European Parliament Environment Committee also favours an open scope with exclusions similar to those proposed by Council but also excluding photovoltaic modules. ENVI propose that cables, accessories and consumables are included in scope. The main difference of opinion with Council is over substance restrictions. Many substance restrictions were originally proposed but there was not sufficient support and so only two additional substance restrictions, nanosilver and carbon nanotubes are being proposed. However, a significant list of substances, including brominated and chlorinated flame retardants, arsenic compounds PVC, and all the chemicals that currently sit on the REACH Candidate List (38 of them) is recommended for addition to Annex III. This is the list of substances for review by the Commission.
The position of the European Parliament Environment Committee has been agreed and there are fewer differences to the Council’s position than previously. Therefore, votes on these directives by the full Parliament have been postponed until October 2010 to allow time for discussions between the Environment Committee and Council to determine if first reading agreements are possible. Although this is far from being a certainty, it is possible that agreement would be reached so that the RoHS directive could, in principal be amended and adopted before the end of 2010 and come into force mid 2012.
With thanks to Dr. Paul Goodman of Cobham Technical Services