Restriction of hazardous substances

This webpage and links are particularly important to current Northern Ireland distributors, who import Electrical and Electronic Equipment (EEE) from Great Britain.

It informs them of changes to their status and obligations under the Ireland/Northern Ireland Protocol, which comes into effect on 1 January 2021.

What is the Restriction of the Use of Certain Hazardous Substances (RoHS) in Electrical and Electronic Equipment?

A UK-wide law restricting the Use of Certain Hazardous Substances in EEE (The Restriction of the Use of Certain Hazardous Substances in Electrical and Electronic Equipment Regulations 2012) came into force on 2 January 2013, as was required by EU legislation (“the RoHS Directive”) (Directive 2011/65/EU).

The aim of the RoHS Directive is to minimise the amount of potentially hazardous substances ending up in landfill sites and being present in recycling processes. It does this by restricting the amount of hazardous substances in the manufacture of a wide range of EEE.

The use of certain hazardous substances is prohibited:
 

  1. heavy metals such as:
  • lead,
  • mercury,
  • cadmium, and
  • hexavalent chromium.

 

  1. flame retardants such as:
  • polybrominated biphenyls or
  • polybrominated diphenyl ethers.

It places specific obligations on each economic operator placing EEE on the European Union market for the first time, including manufacturers, importers and distributors.

Why is RoHS being amended in the UK?

The RoHS Directive  is included in Annex 2 of the Ireland/Northern Ireland Protocol, this means that the RoHS Directive shall continue to apply in Northern Ireland after the transition period.

RoHS is considered a reserved matter under the remit of The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), with the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) being the market surveillance authority for RoHS across the UK.

The UK Government has operationalised the Ireland/Northern Ireland Protocol in relation to RoHS.

For further information on RoHS please find the relevant links to the UK Government websites and contact details for Defra and OPSS, the relevant UK government organisations:

Organisation

Address

Website

Email

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs - Resources and Waste Transition Team

 

Resources and Waste Transition Team, 2 Marsham Street, Seacole Building (SE), London
SW1P 4DF

UK Government website: restriction of hazardous substances (RoHS)

Waste-EUExit@defra.gov.uk

Office for Product Safety and Standards

Office for Product Safety and Standards, 4th Floor Cannon House,
18 The Priory, Queensway,
Birmingham
B4 6BS

UK Government Website Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS)

OPSS.enquiries@beis.gov.uk

‘New Approach’ Directives

RoHS is one of 23 ‘New Approach’ Directives, which are all similar in nature, and basically deal, like RoHS, with product safety. They all place obligations on manufacturers, importers and distributors who place goods on the market for the first time within the EU market.

For consistency the UK Government has operationalised the Ireland/Northern Ireland Protocol in the same manner across all of these ‘New Approach’ directives.

At the end of the Transition Period NI distributors, will become importers, for the first time, with more onerous importer obligations, similar to those under the RoHS Directive.

The Waste, strategy, landfill and producer responsibility team contact details can be found at the following link:

•           Waste strategy, landfill and producer responsibility team

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