Electronic toys and laboratory equipment are now covered by the EU’s Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) regulations, following a vote on the recast of the directive.
Amendments made to the directive have been formally approved by MEPs.
The main changes include:
· The priority list of substances for future restriction, which had included PVC, has been removed, but the method to review or amend the list of banned substances has been made simpler.
· The scope of electrical and electronic equipment (EEE), including medical devices and monitoring and control instruments.
· EEE that was outside the scope but is now covered by it will have an eight-year transitional period, giving producers time to adapt.
· Definitions have been clarified.
· Better enforcement of the directive at national level will be achieved through “alignment with the marketing of products legislative package”.
Environment commissioner Janez Potočnik said: “We use more and more EEE and we must make sure they have as little impact on the environment and human health as possible – both when we use them and when we throw them away.
“Today’s vote will lead to a stronger law that is coherent with other pieces of legislation and easier to implement and enforce.Environmental improvements will result from the inclusion of new product categories such as medical devices and monitoring instruments. In the medium to long term, this will eliminate the presence of banned substances in these products and in the waste derived from them.”
The text will now be formally adopted by the European Council (EC) and come into force 20 days after it is published in the Official Journal of the European Union. Member states will then have 18 months to transpose it into national law but until then the existing RoHS directive still applies. The EC will review the changes made to the directive.
The RoHS Directive aims to create a set of rules that avoid disparities between legislation in member states regarding hazardous substances in EEE. It has led to changes in the design of EEE across the EU, preventing hazardous substances being disposed of and released into the environment since 2003.