GCC proposes restrictions on the use of hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment
On 28 March 2018, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Yemen, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) notified the World Trade Organization (WTO) of a proposed Gulf Cooperation Council for the Arab States (GCC) Technical Regulation restricting the use of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment (commonly referred to as 'RoHS,' as modeled off of the EU’s Directive 2011/65/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 8 June 2011 on the restriction of the use of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment (recast), 'RoHS' or 'RoHS 2'). The Technical Regulation (TR) prohibits the use of hazardous materials in electrical and electronic equipment above a set threshold.
The provisions of the TR apply to all electrical and electronic equipment specified in Annex 1 of the regulation. These include:
- Small and large household appliances (refrigerators and vacuum cleaners for example);
- IT and telecommunication equipment (cellphones for example);
- Consumer equipment;
- Lighting equipment;
- Electrical and electronic tools;
- Medical devices (with some exceptions);
- Monitoring and control instruments;
- Automatic dispensers;
- Toys, leisure and sport equipment (e.g. video games); and
- Other electrical and electronic equipment not covered by the above categories.
Annex 2 of the technical regulation specifies the maximum permissible concentration (in weight) of substances in homogeneous materials that can be allowed in electrical and electronic equipment. The substances listed in Annex 2 included:
- Lead (0.1%);
- Mercury (0.1%);
- Cadmium (0.01%);
- Hexavalent chromium (0.1%);
- Polybrominated biphenyls (PBB) (0.1%);
- Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE) (0.1%);
- Bis(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) (0.1%);
- Butyl benzyl phthalate (BBP) (0.1%)
- Dibutyl phthalate (DBP) (0.1%); and
- Diisobutyl phthalate (DIBP) (0.1%)
The restriction of DEHP, BBP, DBP, and DIBP apply to various equipment with specified phase-in dates. Please see page 32 of the regulation text for more information.
Responsibilities in the supply chain
The proposed technical regulation imposes responsibilities on manufacturers, the manufacturer representative, importers, and product distributors. Manufacturers must analyze the risks associated with the use of their equipment. Manufacturers must also conduct a conformity assessment and keep records of conformity for 10 years. In addition, manufacturers are required to ensure that equipment are accompanied with safety and usage instructions in Arabic.
Importers' responsibility includes completing an Importer Declaration of Conformity form (a sample is annexed to the regulation).
Distributors are only allowed to market equipment that is in compliance with the current regulation.
GCC member states should make sure that substances in all categories of electrical and electronic equipment listed in Annex 1, and placed on the market after 22 July 2017, do not exceed the maximum permissible limit (in weight) of the substances specified in Annex 2.
Certain substances and applications are exempted from the scope of this regulation, for example: mercury in single capped (compact) fluorescent lamps (subject to restrictions), lead bound in crystal glass, and lead and cadmium in filter glasses and glasses used for reflectance standards, among other exemptions.
The exemptions extend also to substances used in some applications related to medical equipment and control instruments (for example equipment utilizing or detecting ionizing radiation, such as lead bearings in X-ray tubes, among others). Certain exemptions come with an expiration date (for example, the exemption for lead as an alloying element for bearings and wear surfaces in medical equipment exposed to ionizing radiation expires on 30 June 2021.)
The annexes of the regulation include a sample of required forms and applications. This includes the importer declaration of conformity and manufacturer declaration of conformity.
This Technical Regulation leaves it to member states to enact national legislation to adopt the provisions of the TR. Member states should enact such national legislation before the date of entry into force of the GCC TR. Member states will also decide what penalties to impose for violating this regulation.
Pursuant to this mandate, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) enacted its own RoHS-like regulation (Decision No. 10 of 2017), which went into effect on 28 April 2017. The UAE RoHS regulation did not deviate from the provisions of the proposed technical regulation. In fact, UAE Decision No. 10 of 2017 included the same annexes of regulated products and set the same maximum permissible concentrations allowed for restricted substances as set in the GCC Technical Regulation. UAE Decision No. 10 of 2017 also specified penalties for violations of its requirements and specified the mandatory UAE standards required for the implementation of this regulation.
Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen have also notified the WTO of their intent to adopt RoHS measures following the GCC TR.