The John Marshall Law School

RoHS and WEEE – The New European Directives

- By:

Courtesy of The John Marshall Law School

- Current Application and Development in the EU and USA


In the last few years the need to produce 'environmentally friendly' products has been seriously considered by EU countries. The debate over how and why to produce such products has moved from being consumer-led to a legal requirement. Legislation was necessary to resolve the ensuing environmental problem due to larger quantities of electrical and electronic equipment/items (“EEE”) becoming affordable, coupled with the shorter life cycle of these products.

Originally the RoHS and WEEE Directives were a single Directive, aimed at reducing the environmental impact of waste electrical and electronic equipment. Eventually the EU decided that it will be better to have two separate Directives that will cover broader spectrum of the environment.

First is the EU Directive 2002/95/EC on the restriction of the use of certain Hazardous Substances in Electrical and Electronic Equipment (“RoHS”). RoHS is small part of an escalating drive “for more environmentally sound manufacturing policies across the whole of industry.” Second is the Directive 2002/96/EC the Waste from Electrical and Electronic Equipment (“WEEE”), which covers the recyclability of certain equipments. WEEE is another part of the environmental policies intended to prevent the destruction of the environment. Currently in the United States there is no federal legislation similar to either RoHS or WEEE.

The RoHS and WEEE Directives are affecting the following types of products: “Household appliances; IT and telecommunications equipment; Consumer equipment; Lighting; Electrical and electronic tools (except large scale stationary industrial tools); Toys, leisure and sports equipment; Automatic dispensers.” In addition, there are some exemptions to RoHS Directive. In a number of cases certain materials covered by it are exempt.


Ultimately, the application of the RoHS and the WEEE Directives will help to resolve the raising environmental problems due to more and more EEE becoming affordable, coupled with the shorter life cycle of these products.

Based on the above report the application of the two Directives will create many problems with each of the countries. There are too many requirements that have to be followed closely and stringently. There are too many exemptions and exceptions that apply. However, to qualify the USA corporation needs to consider its steps carefully since the application of the two Directives is fraught with uncertainty and little information is available, here or in Europe, of how to comply with the requirements.

Therefore, following the findings of this report it is recommended that a corporation should set up a team of experts that needs to devote sufficient energy and resources to follow closely and implement the application of the WEEE and RoHS Directives and their future evolution.

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