What is RoHS Compliance?
The EU (European Union) first adopted this directive in 2003. The acronym "RoHS" stands for Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive. It restricts the use of the following six substances in the manufacturer of electronics components:
- Hexavalent chromium
- Polybrominated biphenyls (PBB)
- Polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE)
The directive applies to equipment as defined by a section of the WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) directive. The following numeric categories apply:
- Large and small household appliances.
- IT equipment.
- Telecommunications equipment (although infrastructure equipment is exempt in some countries)
- Consumer equipment.
- Lighting equipment—including light bulbs.
- Electronic and electrical tools.
- Toys, leisure, and sports equipment.
- Medical devices (currently exempt)
- Monitoring and control instruments (currently exempt)
- Automatic dispensers.
What's the Real Danger?
The reason for the implementation of RoHS compliance is the increasing levels of e-waste or high-tech trash. Since technology is growing so rapidly, many consumers and businesses are throwing away their old, obsolete equipment, thus filling landfills across the world with hazardous materials. Though efforts have been made to "recycle" these electronics, they are doing more harm than good. Adult and child workers in foreign countries are being poisoned by these heavy metals such as lead and mercury. Not only that, but these products are then being shipped back to the US with the hazardous materials still in them.
Will the US adopt similar Directives?
Right now, only California has passed a law prohibiting the sale of electronic devices that are prohibited under the EU RoHS Directive, but on a much smaller scale including LCDs, CRTs, etc, and only covers the four heavy metals: Lead, Mercury, Cadmium, and Hexavalent chromium (please see SB 20: Electronic Waste Recycling Act of 2003, or EWRA, for more info).
Other states are contemplating passing similar acts, but the US as a whole is not likely to adopt these directive in the near to medium term.
What are the Benefits?
Health: RoHS helps reduce damage to people in third-world countries where the e-waste is commonly transported to. Since RoHS requires the use of lead-free solders and components, we're seeing immediate health benefits for electronics industry workers in manufacturing operations.
Reliabiity: Many of today's leading electronics are RoHS compliants including Apple's iPod, Motorola's RAZR, Dell and HP computers and servers, and much more. According to AMD:
"There is no change to fit, functional, electrical or performance specifications. Quality and reliability standards for RoHS compliant products are expected to be identical compared to current packages."
The EU RoHS Directive is a great achievement for the world as a whole. As more and more countries adopt these standards, tomorrow's landfills will be less contaminated and its industrial workers healthier.
Cables Plus USA has begun carrying many RoHS-compliant products including Category 5e and Category 6 patch cables, surge protectors, and other consumer electronics including the entire GoldX line. We expect to keep adding these types of products as time goes on hoping that one day our world will have less and less of these toxic heavy metals and chemicals in the landfills and in our workplaces.
For more information, please visit the Wikipedia article for the RoHS Directive.