RoHS and WEEE, the new game in the electronics industry

Ok! Those do not look like nice words. But the European industry is starting to consider very seriously the consequences of these. They represent two European Directives intending to reduce very significantly the toxic waste and the use of hasardous materials in the electrical and electronic products (this is so wide a scope that a lot of everyday’s products are targeted: photo cameras, TVs, cars, home electric appliances, etc.)

ROHS means Restricted use of Hasardous Substances. WEEE means Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment. These are the nicknames of two European Directives that will be in full application on the 1st of July 2006, and the associated commission’s decisions and amendments.

They aim at removing six (6) toxic products from our environment: lead, mercury, hexavalent chromium, cadmium, brominated biphenyls (BBP) and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE). More details about RoHS and WEEE.

The first consequence is that the whole European industry is rushing to comply with these Directives for all new products. You may not be seeing it, but there are plenty of projects that have been modified in the recent months to ensure compliance. Clearly, it is important since the first prosecutions have been happening and, in Ireland, in the concext of WEEE, a company pleaded guilty in front of the Environmental Protection Agency and was charged 1200€ plus costs (more than 8000€ in total).

The second consequence that may be more surprising to laymen is that a number of existing products are going to disappear before Summer. As a matter of fact, companies may prefer not to modify some old products but to remove them from the market in order to avoid the additional costs to adapt to RoHS and/or WEEE compliance. Some photographic cameras are already in the list of victims. Mostly, semi-pro 4″x5″ kind of cameras (XPan from Hasselblad, 645 and 67 from Pentax), but it may have played a role in some recent changes in the end of some Nikon or Konica-Minolta products.

One comment

  1. After this, Hasselblad France denied that XPan would be stopping soon. It appears that this is only a rumour for Hasselblad.

    But Pentax confirmed that the 67 II and some accessories will fall under this.

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