Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive

The Directive on the restriction of the use of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment 2002/95/EC ( listen (help·info); commonly referred to as the Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive or RoHS) was adopted in February 2003 by the European Union.The RoHS directive took effect on 1 July 2006, and is required to be enforced and become law in each member state. This directive restricts the use of six hazardous materials in the manufacture of various types of electronic and electrical equipment. It is closely linked with the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (WEEE) 2002/96/EC which sets collection, recycling and recovery targets for electrical goods and is part of a legislative initiative to solve the problem of huge amounts of toxic e-waste. In speech, RoHS is often spelled out, or pronounced /ˈrɒs/, /ˈrɒʃ/, /ˈroʊz/, /ˈroʊhɒz/.

RoHS restricted substances have been used in a broad array of consumer electronics products. Examples of leaded components include:
*paints and pigments
*PVC (vinyl) cables as a stabilizer (e.g., power cords, USB cables)
*printed circuit board finishes, leads, internal and external interconnects
*glass in television and photographic products (e.g., CRT television screens and camera lenses)
*metal parts
*lamps and bulbs

Cadmium is found in many of the above components, examples include plastic pigmentation, nickel-cadmium (NiCd) batteries and CdS photocells (used in night lights). Mercury is used in lighting applications and automotive switches, examples include fluorescent lamps (used in laptops for backlighting) and mercury tilt switches (these are rarely used nowadays). Hexavalent chromium is used for metal finishes to prevent corrosion. Polybrominated biphenyls and diphenyl Ethers/Oxides are used primarily as flame retardants.

RoHS is not the only environmental standard of which electronic product developers should be aware. Manufacturers will find that it is cheaper to have only a single bill of materials for a product that is distributed worldwide, instead of customizing the product to fit each country's specific environmental laws. Therefore, they develop their own standards, which allow only the strictest of all allowable substances.

For example, IBM forces each of their suppliers to complete a Product Content Declaration form to document compliance to their environmental standard Baseline Environmental Requirements for Materials, Parts and Products for IBM Logo Hardware Products. So for example, IBM banned DecaBDE, even though there was formerly a RoHS exemption for this material (overturned by the European Court in 2008 ).

Similarly, here is Hewlett-Packard's environmental standard: General specification for the environment (GSE).

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