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RoHS directive revision to cover all electronic equipment

The European Commission has announced that the ban on heavy metals and other dangerous chemicals in electrical and electronic equipment is to be extended to a much wider range of products.

The new law is a revision of the RoHS Directive on the restriction of hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment and intends to improve the safety of electronic products such as thermostats, medical devices and control panels, and to prevent the release of hazardous substances into the environment.

The directive will continue to ban lead, mercury, cadmium, hexavalent chromium and the flame retardants Polybrominated biphenyls (PBB) and Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE). However, its remit will be extended to cover all electronic equipment, cables and spare parts not just household appliances, IT and consumer equipment.

Sweeep contracts manager Justin Greenaway said: “The change is subtle. The aim of a WEEE recycler is to get the most value out of the product. A simple reduction in the amount of lead in a product will not ultimately change how these products are dealt with.

“The changes may, however, have an impact at a later date on those companies extracting metals from within products as they would see a change in the metal compositions and ratios which could affect the value that they can recoup.

“Overall the changes will have minimal effect on those who are recycling these products correctly. However we do experience problems with the mercury in LCD television and laptop screens. These products can accidently or negligently be put through bulk processes. This results in the release of hazardous material with unknown long term consequences. The removal of these hazardous substances from electronic products will therefore protect us in the longer term against inappropriate treatment or accidental incineration of these products.”

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