Review of the RoHS Directive

The amount of waste electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) generated every year in the EU is increasing rapidly. In just 2019, it was estimated that 5,000kg of EEE waste was collected in the EU, that is, an average of 10kg for each of the 513.5 million inhabitants.

During the use, collection, treatment, and disposal of such waste, EEE products may release hazardous substances such as lead, and mercury which can cause major environmental and health problems.

To address such challenges, EU laws restrict the use of certain hazardous substances in EEE through the Restriction of Hazardous Substances in Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (RoHS).

During a recent evaluation of the RoHS Directive, it was noted that although the Directive has been successful in contributing to the reduction of the use of hazardous substances in EEE, a range of issues were identified with the practical operation of the Directive. Some of the systemic issues identified, point in particular to the high administrative burden and complexity of provisions and processes in place.

To this end, the European Commission has initiated a review of the RoHS Directive with the aim of simplifying and increasing the efficiency of the current rules and improve their enforcement.

In preparation of the revision of this Directive, the Commission has initiated a public consultation to enable all interested stakeholders, including members of the public, to provide evidence and give views on the best options to improve the RoHS Directive.

The following is a brief overview of the measures that the Commission is proposing to address the shortcomings of the RoHS Directive:

  1. Maintain the RoHS Directive as it stands and introduce certain non-legislative ‘soft ’measures.
  2. Simplify and clarify the RoHS Directive by introducing and revising legislative ‘hard’ measures and ‘soft’ measures.
  3. Transform the RoHS Directive into a regulation, to simplify application and reduce unnecessary regulatory burden.
  4. Repeal the RoHS Directive and incorporate its provisions into the REACH Regulation.
  5. Repeal the RoHS Directive and address EEE product requirements under sustainable products legislation.

This revision of the RoHS Directive forms part the Circular Economy Action Plan (CEAP) and contributes to the Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability and to the Zero Pollution action plan key deliverables of the European Green Deal.

National authorities, business associations and companies including SMEs, NGOs, civil society organisations, academia, individuals, workers associations and trade unions are invited to partake in this online consultation and provide their input by June 2, 2022.