SGS helps you stay on top of changes in hazardous substances regulations
With changes to banned substances lists likely, SGS assists companies with chemical testing and consultancy for a wide range of consumer products.
With heated recent debate over the scope of the EU RoHS Directive, it seems likely that fewer exemptions will now be given, particularly for most Electrical and Electronic Equipment (IEEE), which will now be covered by the directive. CE marking will now be a requirement, along with the labelling of products using nano-materials.
Likely changes to restricted substances attracted the most attention in recent debate. The list of restricted substances will likely be expanded following the December 2009 Draft Report on a recasting of the RoHS. New additions suggested by the EU Parliament Rapporteur included: Chlorinated plasticisers, Polyvinylchloride (PVC), Brominated flame retardants, Chlorinated flame retardants, Dibutylphthalate (DBP), Butylbenzylphthalate (BBP), Bis (2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP). These changes are likely to come as amendments to Article IV (Annex IV) regarding restricted substances and Article 6a detailing the list of priority substances for reconsideration in the next edition of the directive. The review process has followed the REACH 1907/2006/EC methodology.
Despite these suggestions, the European Parliament Environmental Committee instead voted that some of these substances (including PVC, phthalates) be included only in Annex III, as substances for further evaluation. This is likely to coincide with an additional expansion of priority substances in Annex III, especially including those listed as substances of very high concern (SVHC) in the REACH candidate list. Those that may be considered as priorities include PVC, SVHC in the REACH candidate list, Organochlorines, Organobromines, and Diisobutylphthalate (DIBP).
Should substances be restricted if there are no safer alternatives?
Debate over the restriction of hazardous substances is ongoing. On one hand, governments and environmental groups emphasise the importance of environmental protection. They note that restriction of substances creates incentives for manufacturers to use non-toxic alternatives as well as to invest in developing new, more environmentally friendly types of technology.
Industry stakeholders however claim that in many cases either no safe alternatives exist to the substances in question, or that proposed alternatives merely shift risk from the environment to other areas of concern.
An example is PVC, known not to be toxic in itself, but regarded as toxic due to additives include in the polymer which can be problematic at end of life treatment. Additives that provide flexibility to PVC have a high chance of containing phthalates. Industry bodies point out that the safety of PVC could be assured if these additives were replaced with safer substances. The industry has argued that PVC is materially safer than alternatives given its long term stability and flexibility, which safeguards against electrical surges due to freely accessible current.
Given the concerns on both sides, the debate over substance restriction continues. It is clear however that the outcome of these discussions will affect not only consumers in the European Union, but also those further afield. For example, people in third world countries may be affected by EEE wastes; as such wastes are often shipped to their countries for ‘recycling’ purposes.
For a wide range of consumer products, SGS can aid your business with chemical testing and consultancy work.
For further information contact: email@example.com
SGS Consumer Testing Services
Global Sustainability Services, Global REACH Manager
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