The amount of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) generated every year in the EU is increasing rapidly. It is now one of the fastest growing waste streams.
Electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) contains hazardous substances. Since 2003, EU laws have restricted the use of these hazardous substances.
The rise in the production and use of electrical and electronic products, such as mobile phones, computers and kitchen appliances, has resulted in an increasing volume of electrical and electronic waste. During the use, collection, treatment and disposal of such waste, products may release harmful (hazardous) substances such as lead, mercury and cadmium, which can cause major environmental and health problems.
To address such challenges, EU laws restrict the use of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment through the RoHS Directive. In parallel, the WEEE Directive promotes the collection and recycling of such equipment.
The RoHS Directive currently restricts the use of ten substances: lead, cadmium, mercury, hexavalent chromium, polybrominated biphenyls (PBB) and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE), bis(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), butyl benzyl phthalate (BBP), dibutyl phthalate (DBP) and diisobutyl phthalate (DIBP).
All products with an electrical and electronic component, unless specifically excluded, have to comply with these restrictions.
In 2017, the Commission adopted a legislative proposal adjusting the scope of the RoHS Directive.
The RoHS Directive aims to prevent the risks posed to human health and the environment related to the management of electronic and electrical waste.
It does this by restricting the use of certain hazardous substances in EEE that can be substituted by safer alternatives. These restricted substances include heavy metals, flame retardants or plasticizers.
The Directive promotes the recyclability of EEE, as EEE and its components that have become waste contain fewer hazardous substances. At the same time, it ensures a level playing field for manufacturers and importers of EEE in the European market.
Delegated Directives amending RoHS Annexes
Restricted substances (Annex II)
- Commission Delegated Directive (EU) 2015/863 of 31 March 2015
Exemptions (Annex III and IV)
In December 2021, the European Commission adopted the following 12 delegated acts concerning exemptions for the use of mercury in lamps. The acts will be submitted to the European Parliament and the Council. Both co-legislators have two months to either accept or reject the acts – a process which can be extended by a further two months, if needed.
- RoHS mercury exemption 1 (a)-(e) – compact fluorescent lamps for general purposes
- RoHS mercury exemption 1(f) - compact fluorescent lamps for special purposes
- RoHS mercury exemption 1(g) - compact fluorescent lamps for general purposes with a lifetime equal/above 20 000
- RoHS mercury exemption 2(a) (1)-(5) - linear fluorescent lamps for general lighting purposes
- RoHS mercury exemption 2(b)(3) - linear tri-band phosphor lamps
- RoHS mercury exemption 2(b)(4) - fluorescent lamps for other general lighting and special purposes
- RoHS mercury exemption 3(a)-(c) - cold cathode fluorescent lamps and external electrode fluorescent lamps for special purposes
- RoHS mercury exemption 4 (a) - other low pressure discharge lamps
- RoHS mercury exemption 4(b) - high pressure sodium (vapour) lamps with improved colour rendering index
- RoHS mercury exemption 4(c) I-III - other high pressure sodium lamps for general lighting purposes
- RoHS mercury exemption 4 (e) - metal halide lamps
- RoHS mercury exemption 4 (f) - other discharge lamps for special purposes
- New exemption 47 Annex IV – Commission Delegated Directive (EU) 2021/1978 of 11 August 2021
- New exemption 46 in Annex IV – Commission Delegated Directive (EU) 2021/1979 of 11 August 2021
- New exemption 45 Annex IV – Commission Delegated Directive (EU) 2021/1980 of 11 August 2021
- Renewal exemption 42 Annex IV- Commission Delegated Directive (EU) 2021/884 of 8 March 2021
- New exemption 45 Annex III – Commission Delegated Directive (EU) 2021/647 of 15 January 2021
- 5 Commission Delegated Directives (EU) 2020/360, 2020/361 and 2020/364 to 2020/366 of 17 December 2019
- 2 Commission Delegated Directives (EU) 2019/1845 and (EU) 2019/1846 of 8 August 2019
- 10 Commission Delegated Directives (EU) 2019/169 to (EU) 2019/178 of 16 November 2018
- 4 Commission Delegated Directives (EU) 2018/739 to (EU) 2018/742 of 1 March 2018
- 3 Commission Delegated Directives (EU) 2018/736 to (EU) 2018/738 of 27 February 2018
- 1 Commission Delegated Directive (EU) 2017/1975 of August 2017, to be read in conjunction with the Corrigendum
- 3 Commission Delegated Directives (EU) 2017/1009 to (EU) 2017/1011 of March 2017
- 2 Commission Delegated Directives (EU) 2016/1028 to (EU) 2016/1029 of 19 April 2016
- Commission Delegated Directive (EU) 2016/585 of 12 February 2016
- 2 Commission Delegated Directives (EU) 2015/573 to (EU) 2015/574 of 30 January 2015
- 8 Commission Delegated Directives 2014/69/EU to 2014/76/EU of 13 March 2014
- 16 Commission Delegated Directives 2014/1/EU to 2014/16/EU of 18 October 2013
- 2 Commission Delegated Directives 2012/50/EU to 2012/51/EU of 10 October 2012
Information about the implementation of the RoHS Directive, including the exemption procedure, timeframe and assessment studies.
Key dates related to the RoHS Directive
- December 2021Commission adopts 12 Delegated Directives concerning exemptions for the use of mercury in lamps
- 15 November 2017RoHS Directive amended
- 02 January 2013Deadline for EU countries to transpose provisions of new RoHS Directive
- 21 July 2011New RoHS Directive enters into force
- 27 January 2003First RoHS Directive enters into force
On the RoHS 2 scope review
- Report - Measures to be implemented and additional impact assessment with regard to scope changes, pursuant to the new RoHS Directive
- Report - Additional Input to the Commission Impact Assessment for a Review of the Scope Provisions of the RoHS Directive Pursuant to Article 24(1)
- Study for the analysis of impacts from RoHS2 on non-road mobile machinery without an on-board power source, on windows and doors with electric functions, and on the refurbishment of medical devices
On the review of the list of restricted substances
- Study to support the review of the list of restricted substances and to assess a new exemption request under RoHS 2 (Pack 15)
The information and views set out in this study are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Commission. The recommendations provided in this study do not preclude future decisions to be taken by the Commission.
- Study for the review of the list of restricted substances under RoHS2
- Study for the review of the list of restricted substances under RoHS 2 - analysis of impacts from a possible restriction of several new substances under RoHS 2
On the RoHS 1 review
- Study for the simplification for RoHS/WEEE
- Report - Adaptation to scientific and technical progress under Directive 2002/95/
- Study to support the impact assessment of the RoHS review
- Review of the first RoHS Directive Categories 8 and 9