On April 14, 2021, the European Commission published the final report on the evaluation of the Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) Directive. The report is an important step in the mandated review process that could result in a recast of the directive.

The RoHS Report

Third-party consultants Ecorys and Ramboll conducted the study on behalf of the European Commission. The study reviewed the directive’s effectiveness in protecting the environment and human health from harmful substances found in electrical and electronic equipment (EEE), and made recommendations in a number of key areas.

The final report states that the RoHS Directive has been generally successful in raising the overall level of environmental protection and reducing the use of hazardous substances in EEE by roughly 67 percent since the directive was introduced 2002.

RoHS Exemptions

Improvements were recommended in certain areas of the directive, specifically the mechanisms that grant and review RoHS exemptions. Companies are allowed to request specific use-case exemptions for RoHS restricted substances. These exemptions are specific in scope and lifespan and expire unless companies provide robust information that supports the need for the exemption to continue.

The report determined that the exemptions process was the most resource-heavy aspect for companies. It recommended finding ways to streamline the process to alleviate this burden.

What does your company need to do to manage RoHS exemptions? Download our whitepaper, EU RoHS Directive: Understanding Exemptions, to learn more about this complex process and how you can simplify it.


Circular Economy

The EU has established ambitious targets for sustainability and has introduced numerous pieces of legislation to promote a circular economy. The Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation, and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) Regulation, EU Waste Framework Directive, and others safeguard the environment in a similar way to the RoHS Directive. The study has highlighted these similarities as a potential source of confusion going forward, and recommended studying ways to distinguish RoHS from existing or impending legislation.

Next Steps

It’s too early to tell if the report will lead to a recast of the RoHS Directive. The European Commission was obligated to review RoHS 2 under Article 24 of the directive, and will now present the final report to the European Parliament and European Council. It will be accompanied by any proposals to replace or recast the directive, if deemed necessary. The last recast of the directive occurred in 2013, leading to RoHS 2. A 2019 expansion of RoHS restricted substances is sometimes mistakenly referred to as RoHS 3, despite the fact that it was not a recast.

If proposals for a new directive or regulation are forthcoming, they are likely to be amended several times before the European Parliament and European Council agree on final text. Similar processes in the past have run from 12 to 18 months. When the bodies agree upon text, the recast would be published in the European Commission’s Official Journal complete with a new implementation timeline.

Assent’s RoHS Solution

While an overhaul to the existing RoHS Directive is likely some time away, current compliance requirements remain a considerable task for companies doing business in the EU. Assent has helped hundreds of companies meet their RoHS requirements through our supply chain data management platform. Our RoHS solution simplifies the exemption process through proactive engagement with suppliers, product declaration roll-ups, and more. To learn more, contact us today.

Steven Andrews
Regulatory & Sustainability Expert, Product Sustainability

Steven helps companies understand environmental regulations and how they are enforced. He is an internationally recognized expert, with more than 20 years of experience in EU policy development focusing  Read More

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