In this month’s article we’ll cover a variety of issues I’ve noted over the past few months that readers should be aware of.
EU RoHS Exemption Extension Status
First, I’ve now gotten asked about a million times whether any of the EU RoHS “Pack 9” exemptions have been extended. In fact, that’s the wrong question; the right question is whether the Oeko Institut has issued the report they said should be “expected in March 2016.” As of today it does not appear to have been issued.
Note that the process is for Oeko to make recommendations via this report, then for the European Commission to make a decision. “[T]he expected timeframe for the Commission to take a decision on a RoHS exemption application is currently 18-24 months from the application date.” This means a decision can be expected sometime between July 2016 and January 2017. Exemptions set to expire on July 21, 2016 that have outstanding extension applications will not expire until the Commission says they will.
Update on United Arab Emirates (UAE) RoHS
The European Union, as well as a group of electronics industry associations, provided comments to the UAE regarding their RoHS proposal, which I have previously written about, AKA “World Trade Organization Technical Barriers to Trade notification number G/TBT/N/ARE/265.” The EU noted the following key issues (among others):
- The list of exemptions in the UAE draft did not match the EU RoHS Directive’s list. The EU asked for available “scientific and technical information” that would justify a shorter list.
- The “absence of any transition period for the inclusion of the … four phthalates in the list of restricted substances”. They asked, again, for available “scientific and technical information” that would justify this.
- “Article 4.1 seems to be unclear because it does not specify whether the restrictions listed in Annex 2 only apply when the electrical and electronic devices are placed on the market for the first time or also to the following marketing stages.”
- Clarity is lacking on the conformity assessment procedure related to “Model A”. They asked for “clarification on the exact procedure for the placing on the market of products following the assessment by the manufacturer and the drawing up of a Declaration of Conformity, and in particular on whether a prior authorisation by the United Arab Emirates’ authorities is required.”
The industry association’s comments also included a recommendation to make the UAE’s requirements for test data coincide more directly with the approach defined in the EU’s harmonized standard EN 50581:2012.
Interestingly, the UAE appears to have responded directly to the EU with a revised draft. I’ve not found this draft available to other WTO TBT entities. You can find it (along with the other referenced documents) here.
- The revised list of exemptions, particularly in Annex 4, appears to more closely match the current EU RoHS Annex IV list of exemptions. I always find it interesting when other countries refer directly to EU Directives or other regulatory instruments in their own regulations – Annex 3, item 20 in the UAE draft calls out “Council Directive 69/493/EEC” without referring to the fact that it is an EU Directive, not a UAE “Directive”. That’s what happens when they directly copy language right out of the Directive. I see that in several US States’ RoHS clauses in their e-waste regulations and suspect (though I’m no lawyer) that, because the result is to incorporate a foreign regulatory requirement in a US regulation which would mean we have no legislative or voter-based control over it, this is probably not legal. I have no idea whether it would be legal under the UAE regulatory structure but I’d rather see jurisdictions copying the actual text they are referencing so they then have control over it when the EU either changes it or repeals it (like they did to 2002/95/EC, thereby invalidating California’s RoHS provision, if it was even legal in the first place!).
- The transition period issue was addressed; the timeline makes more sense and, to the extent necessary, harmonizes with EU RoHS dates for the phthalate restrictions.
- The Article 4.1 issue does not appear to have been addressed.
- The UAE did not address the test issue – this could be a significant issue as testing is an extraordinarily expensive, time consuming, and ultimately inadequate and inappropriate way of verifying product compliance to RoHS beyond the lot being tested.
The EU then followed up with another letter in February 2016. Issues identified include advising UAE to indicate that exemptions in Annexes 3 and 4 should be “ qualified as temporary” as well as noting that they did not address the other issues the EU had previously raised and requested they be addressed.
So stay tuned; there’s more to come!
Resistors, Capacitors and EU REACH SVHC Disclosure
Surface mount resistors often incorporate one lead oxide or another that is listed in the EU REACH candidate list of SVHCs into a layer of “glass”. Similarly, surface mount capacitors may incorporate diboron trioxide into the ceramic matrix of the part. Now that the definition of “article” has been “clarified” to the point where we probably will have to consider individual Rs and Cs to be articles in and of themselves, the bad habit certain manufacturers have of disclosing ingredients rather than the actual composition of their finished goods must cease.
A few years ago two major industry associations, JEITA (Japan) and ZVEI (Germany), issued position statements on disclosure of these and other ingredients in glass and ceramic passive components. While most manufacturers of Rs and Cs are in line with these, there remain some that disclose these ingredients as though they actually still exist as those substances in their finished products, the Rs and Cs. They do not (or at least they should not! There are specific exceptions that are described by the JEITA/ZVEI statement). To reduce the challenges and potential issues your customers will have as their Article 33 disclosure requirements expand to include SVHCs at (and potentially below) the component level, I strongly recommend that all manufacturers up and down the supply chain review this issue and take appropriate measures in their own disclosures and declarations.