RoHS and WEEE – to Minimize E-Waste

The Directive on the restriction of the use of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment, popularly known as the Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive (RoHS), and the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (WEEE), were two of the initiatives adopted by the European Union, in order to solve the issues of increasing electronic waste (e-waste), which pose threat to life, health and environment. Each member state of the European Union is bound to abide by the guidelines mentioned in the directives and manufacture RoHS and WEEE compliant products. However, they can resort to take their own measures for implementing the rules.

The RoHS directive restricts the use of certain substances in the manufacture of Electrical and Electronic Equipment (EEEs). It is commonly known as the lead-free directive, but the use of certain other harmful substances is also prohibited under the RoHS Directive. These include mercury, cadmium, hexavalent chromium and the polybrominated flame retardants such as, polybrominated biphenyls (PBB) and polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE). These cause harm not only to the environment but also to the health conditions of the employees in the firm and users of the product.

The WEEE directive assigns the responsibility of managing the e-wastes to the manufacturing firm. It directs the manufacturers to collect the e-waste and make provisions for its reuse or recycle. The obsolete or used electrical and electronic goods also are termed as e-waste. WEEE directive applies to the small and large-scale household appliances, electrical and electronic tools, lighting equipments, etc. Some of the medical devices, monitoring and control instruments and IT and telecommunications equipment are, however, exempted from being WEEE compliant.

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