Two changes to the RoHS Directive since 22 July 2019

The ‘extended’ RoHS Directive (2011/65/EU) with new substance restrictions and an open scope of application entered into force on 22 July of this year. As part of the opening-up of the scope of application, which has so far been limited to 10 specific categories, all the electrical and electronic equipment falls within the scope of the RoHS Directive for the first time, unless it is explicitly excluded. This means that Category 11 electrical and electronic equipment may no longer be made available on the market if it does not meet the requirements of the RoHS Directive. In addition, four substances have been added to the list of restricted substances.

The scope of the RoHS Directive encompasses:

  • electrical and electronic equipment that requires electric currents or electromagnetic fields to operate properly or to perform at least one of its intended functions, and
  • equipment for the generation, transmission and measurement of such currents and fields designed to operate on an alternating current of not more than 1,000 volts or a direct current of not more than 1,500 volts.
  • This includes all cables with a rated voltage of less than 250 volts which are used as connecting or extension cables to connect electrical or electronic devices to a socket or to connect two or more electrical or electronic devices together.

According to Annex II of the RoHS Directive, since 22 July 2019 the following substance restrictions are also applied (see also Delegated Directive (EU) 2015/863): The previously listed substances lead, mercury, cadmium, hexavalent chromium, polybrominated biphenyls (PBB) and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE) were supplemented by the four phthalates di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), butylbenzyl phthalate (BBP), dibutyl phthalate (DBP) and diisobutyl phthalate (DIBP). These are now also subject to a restriction, with a respective permissible maximum concentration of 0.1 percent by weight in the homogeneous material. With regard to these four substances, the following also applies:

  • The restriction of DEHP, BBP, DBP and DIBP will apply from 22 July 2021 to medical devices, including in vitro diagnostic medical devices, and monitoring and control instruments, including industrial monitoring and control instruments.
  • The restriction of DEHP, BBP, DBP and DIBP does not apply to cables or spare parts for repair, reuse, updating or enhancing the performance of electrical and electronic equipment placed on the market before 22 July 2019 and medical equipment placed on the market before 22 July 2021 (see above).
  • The restriction of DEHP, BBP and DBP does not apply to toys which are already subject to the restriction of DEHP, BBP and DBP through entry 51 in Annex XVII to Regulation (EC) No. 1907/2006.

Legal background: RoHS

The RoHS Directive (RoHS = Restriction of Hazardous Substances) establishes provisions for the restriction in the use of hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment to protect human health and the environment, including the environmentally-compatible recovery and disposal of the devices. The aim of the regulation is to ban substances harmful to health and the environment such as lead, mercury and chromium from electronic products. Companies must be able to demonstrate that products falling within the scope of the RoHS Directive do comply with the requirements of the RoHS Directive. Germany has decoupled the RoHS Directive from the Electrical and Electronic Equipment Act (ElektroG) and incorporated it into the Electrical Substances Ordinance (ElektroStoffV).