RoHS & WEEE
These directives implement environmental legislation which seeks, via the RoHS, to reduce the quantity of hazardous material in electrical and electronic products and, via the WEEE Directive, to promote more environmentally friendly design and greater recycling of material in similar products.
The WEEE (Waste from Electrical and Electronic Equipment) Directive aims to encourage producers of electrical and electronic equipment to design in an environmentally friendly way and to maximize the potential for recyclability or re-use of the product. The initial intent of the directive was to address the issue raised by the huge volume of consumer products which were discarded after a very short period of use due to fashion or technology changes, but is now deemed to apply to all producers of electrical and electronic equipment (with certain exemptions as defined in the text).
Manufacturers, Importers and Distributors are encouraged under the legislation to arrange for the recovery and disposal or recycling of their products and to cover the cost of that process. Many small and medium sized businesses will 'sell on' their obligations under the legislation to a compliance scheme to which they subscribe. At the time of publication of this catalogue the precise details of UK regulations are subject to review. The proposed changes will implement increased collection targets, with a mandatory target of 65% of the average weight of equipment placed on the market over the previous two years. This is designed to combat the low volume of only 1/3 of waste collected that is currently being treated, and the widespread illegal trade of waste to non EU countries. The changes will now also include medical devices with their own recovery targets, and will also seek to make the directive compatible with other directives such as Reach, Waste Framework and Marketing of Products. Any implications for our suppliers or customers will be communicated via our website.
The RoHS (Restriction of Hazardous Substances) Directive seeks to minimize the amount of particular elements and compounds in electrical and electronic products.
There are currently proposed changes to this directive, namely the inclusion of four new substances (HBCDD, DEHP, DBP, BBP) in the list of banned substances, the inclusion of medical devices, monitoring and control instruments into the directive and the inclusion of RoHS compliance under the CE marking process. As previous, any implications for our suppliers or customers will be communicated via our website.
RoHS and Canford customers
The implications for Canford customers often depend on whether products are being purchased for incorporation into manufactured electrical or electronic goods or are to be used by an end user.
Customers who purchase an item which itself may form part of a finished item of electrical or electronic equipment which will be placed on the market within the EC need to know that the item or component purchased from Canford is compliant in itself and could not cause any piece of equipment into which it may be incorporated to become non-compliant. It is Canford’s intention that up to date information on the compliance status of items in the catalogue will be provided in the product information pages of our website at www.canford.co.uk.
This apparent anomaly of listing the compliance status of items which in themselves may not be required to comply may be explained by considering the example of a screw whose plating contains prohibited substances. If such a screw were to be used to fix an item which was entirely passive, there would be no RoHS implications. If, however, the screw was used to fix the case of an electronic item for sale on the open EC market, there would be clear RoHS implications.
Canford will therefore seek to provide information on its products including those which are not required to comply with the legislation, but could have implications for the compliance status of any piece of equipment into which they may be incorporated. The RoHS information provided by Canford will take the form of a status flag in one of the following formats:
This indicates that to the best of our information, the relevant finished item or component has been checked and is not believed to contain any prohibited substances.
This indicates that the item is non-compliant either in itself or if it were to be incorporated into a relevant separate finished product. This description can therefore be confusing, as non-compliance may be irrelevant in the case of a component which is not purchased for incorporation into an item covered by the legislation.
This indicates that the item in question is exempt from the scope of the legislation and would have no detrimental effect even if incorporated as a component into another piece of equipment.
This indicates that Canford believes that the item may not be exempt but that there is insufficient information to declare its actual status.
Customers who buy certain types of product for incorporation into large fixed installations (usually system integrators) may find that the installation itself is outside the proposed scope of the legislation, although further clarification should be sought on this issue.
End user customers
In the case of customers buying for their own use, they should simply be aware that complete items of electrical or electronic equipment having an intrinsic function should be compliant and it is Canford's policy to seek to provide this assurance.
However, it should be noted that customers will not contravene the law by using potentially non-compliant versions (in contrast to the directives on EMC and Safety where use by the customer could be illegal). Additionally, end users should also note that there may be exemptions for equipment for use in certain large fixed installations, as mentioned previously, and again clarification should be sought before assuming an exemption.
As previously mentioned, the intent of this legislation is to improve the environmental impact of manufactured electrical and electronic products, both by reducing the amount of potentially toxic materials used in the manufacturing process and by encouraging re-use and or recycling of the material content of the product.
A particular impact which has meant major change for electronics manufacturers is the need to reduce the lead content in products and the consequent search for alternative soldering technologies. Canford began the process of using non-leaded solder in 2003 and has also been engaged in the laborious process of changing over to components which have non-lead solder dipped contacts and content. Despite the complexity of the task of making the changes to a few thousand low volume product component lists, Canford, with the cooperation of hundreds of suppliers, continues with its mission to only offer compliant products.
Some unexpected consequences also appeared as a result of our review of our own manufactured products, for example discovering the presence of prohibited substances in some plating materials and colorants in items as diverse as screws, rack cases and plastic parts, all of which have been addressed with the result that we believe that customers can purchase with confidence from a supplier who takes its responsibilities seriously and seeks determinedly to meet its legal and environmental obligations.