The European Commission is currently seeking public comment as part of its review of the Restriction of Hazardous Substances in Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (Directive 2011/65/EU) (the RoHS Directive).

The aim of the RoHS Directive is to reduce the risk to human and environmental health by restricting the use of certain hazardous substances in electronics which can be substituted by safer alternatives.

This initiative to review the RoHS Directive is part of the EU’s Circular Economy Action Plan, and contributes to the Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability and Zero Pollution Action Plan, which are key deliverables under the European Green Deal.

As part of the RoHS Directive’s evaluation process, the European Commission has identified a number of issues relating to the practical operation of the RoHS Directive which this initiative will aim to address. In particular, the evaluation process reported that the RoHS Directive contains:

  • complex and impractical provisions relating to exemptions to substance restrictions;
  • an unclear process for reviewing the list of restricted substances;
  • inconsistencies with existing EU Regulations (for example the REACH Regulation and Eco-design Directive);
  • difficulties in enforcement, notably in the context of e-commerce; and
  • unclear and outdated provisions to support the circular economy.

The European Commission has proposed the following preliminary options which it is seeking input on, in order to address the issues noted above:

  • introduce new ‘soft’ measures, including updates to online FAQs to explain the interactions between the RoHS Directive and other EU legislation;
  • revise the RoHS Directive in order to (i) clarify and improve the exemption process, (ii) clarify and improve the restricted substances trigger, (iii) ensure coherence with other EU legislation, and (iv) improve implementation and enforcement;
  • transform the RoHS Directive into an EU regulation; or
  • repeal the RoHS Directive and incorporate its provisions into existing legislation.

Whilst this consultation is open to all citizens, the European Commission has flagged the following groups as the main stakeholders for the initiative: Member State authorities, business associations and companies including SMEs, non-governmental/civil society organisations, academia, individuals, workers associations and trade unions.

Submissions must be made through the European Commission’s online portal by 2 June 2022 (the online portal is available here).