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The RoHS Debate - Do We Need RoHS in the US?

RoHS is often referred to as the "lead-free" directive. The RoHS directive took effect on July 1, 2006.

The RoHS WEEE directive restricts the use of six hazardous materials in the manufacture of various types of electronic and electrical equipment. RoHS COMPLIANT also referred to as RoHS 5 or RoHS 20.

In other words - any manufacturer that plans to sell electronic goods to the European Union must make sure their products comply with the RoHS directive. This has causes an untold burden on electronic manufacturers all over the world. Many consulting companies have sprung up to help factories comply.

Recent news indicates that RoHS is not just inconvenient, but a time-consuming, expensive and ill-conceived environmental law. I think the thought behind it is valid, the world could use less pollutant. But as in most government regulations – perhaps RoHS is a little overboard. It reminds one of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.

Do we need something like RoHS in the US? The question has been posed to the manufacturing community on more than one occasion. The benefits of RoHS are obvious; it ensures that electronic parts imported into the EU are free from hazardous chemicals and other materials. This is good. But it comes at a great expense. Manufacturers now need to ensure that their raw materials adheres – and have to certify that they do.

With no US RoHS legislation proposed, California has enacted it’s own RoHS rule to take effect in 2007. The California RoHS is not as comprehensive as the EU rule. It also only applies to a certain select group of products sold through California retailers such as laptops, CRTs and TVs. It should also be noted that China is implementing it’s own RoHS laws in 2007.

People pushing for such a US law say that it is in the best interest of the US electronics industry.

“Enacting national RoHS and WEEE rules is an environmentally responsible thing to do. Computers, TVs, and cell phones contain lead, mercury, cadmium, and hexavalent chromium. They also have a shorter life span than ever before. In 1997, the average life span of a computer was 4-6 years; in 2005, it was less than 2 years. Ultimately these products wind up in landfills where the hazardous substances in them can threaten the environment. National RoHS and WEEE laws will provide incentives for removing these substances from new products, and for properly disposing of existing products.” Paul Tallentire – President, Newark InOne.
The RoHS enforcement authority ( has already begun enforcement of the regulations since the coming into force and has already been working closely with trade associations, quality systems organisations and individual companies providing advice and support on the interpretation of the regulations.

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About the Author: Ingvar is an author and webmaster. He writes on a variety of subjects.

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