Beyond RoHS: toward prohibition of a wider band of substances in a larger pool of consumer products

While Europe’s WEEE and RoHS directives are being picked up by other countries around the world, in Europe itself, moves are afoot to dramatically expand the list of banned substances and to apply such bans to a broader range of products.

In the front line is Norway, where the Prohibition on Certain Hazardous Substances in Consumer Products (PoHS) regulation is likely to come into force in 2008. This is a very different approach from that of the Euro-pean Union’s Directive 2002/95/EC on the restriction of the use of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment (RoHS), since PoHS would ban more than 18 substances. Only two, lead and cadmium, are mentioned in the European Directive, while in addition, Norway would also ban arsenic, TBBPA, HBCDD (bro-minated flame retardants), chlorinated paraffins, TBT, TPT, synthetic musk, PFOA, DTDMAC, DODMAC, DSDMAC, DHTDMAC, bisphenol A, DEHP, pentachlorophenol and triclosan.

The scope of PoHS is also much broader than RoHS and would apply not only to electrical and electronic equipment, but also nearly all goods defined as “consumer”, with a few exceptions. The maximum admissible concentration values are also more stringent than RoHS.

The aim of the proposed regulatory amendment is to more drastically limit the hazardous effects on human health and the environment caused by hazardous substances in consumer products, and to limit the contents of pollutants in waste. Although its adoption has been temporarily delayed, it is nonetheless probable that the measure will be approved before September 2008, and, as this presentation will explore, the ramifications will certainly extend well beyond the frontiers of Norway and may quickly impact policy in other European countries as well as the rest of the world.

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