Oeko Institut, under contract with the European Commission, has continued prioritizing the potential RoHS substances that were identified by Umweltbundesamt (the Austrian Environment Agency) in their report “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“. See our blog post “February 5, 2014: Final report of RoHS 2 restricted substances study – 71 priority substance areas identified” for information about the Umweltbundesamt study. The Oeko Institut work is considering those substances which are not already under final assessment for the RoHS Directive (ie. the three phthalates substances (DEHP, DBP, BBP) and the flame retardant HBCDD).
This latest review synthesizes information about applications, volume of usage, and whether or not the substances remain as final constituents of the finished product. Several of the substances identified by Umweltbundesamt are intermediate chemicals that react during the manufacturing process and therefore should not remain in the finished product. However, the RoHS Directives only restricts substances that are constituents of the final product, so there is little benefit to the environment or human health by restricting a substance that is consumed in the manufacturing process unless significant unreacted amounts remain in the product.
Oeko Institut organized the substances into six priority subgroups based on the following criteria:
- Quantities in which the substance is in use in EEE manufacture;
- Quantities present in EEE end products (in cases where substances are used as intermediates or reactive chemicals;
- Possible differences in the use trend of a substance between EU manufacturers and other manufacturers in light of REACH authorisation processes;
They also note that several of the substances (i.e. indium phosphide, beryllium based compounds and cobalt based compounds) have been designated by the European Commission as critical materials that are essential to the EU economy.
Subgroup 1: High use volume in EEE
This first subgroup contains Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) which is commonly used in EEE for wire/cable sheathing and in telecommunication systems for cable management. The listing of PVC is controversial to many manufacturers and suppliers. Oeko institute noted that concerns about PVC are being raised for different reasons and that a comprehensive assessment of the different types of PVC should be performed. In particular, the assessment should differentiate between flexible PVC that may include the phthalates DEHP, BBP, and DBP and other additives versus rigid PVC that typically does not include these additives.
The recommendation states “Higher priority to assess if environmental benefits justify restriction – check if there are sub-substances that need to be reviewed as with PVC rigid, soft and recycled.”
Subgroup 2: Medium use volume in EEE
This second subgroup includes:
- Medium chained chlorinated paraffins (MCCP), C14–C17: alkanes, C14-17, chloro
- Antimony trioxide
- Tetrabromo-bisphenol A (TBBPA)
The recommendation is “Medium priority to assess if environmental benefits justify restriction – check if there are sub-substances that need to be reviewed as with PVC rigid, soft and recycled.”
Subgroup 3: Low use volume in EEE
The third subgroup includes:
- Indium Phosphide
- Beryllium metal and containing alloys
- Beryllium oxide
The recommendation for these substances is “Lower priority to assess if environmental benefits justify restriction – check if there are sub-substances that need to be reviewed as with PVC rigid, soft and recycled.”
Subgroup 4: Annex XIV substance assumed not to be in use in light of EU use trends and Annex XVII substance with restrictions applying both to EU and non EU production
These substances have seen significantly reduced use within the EU since their addition to REACH Annex XIV; however, Oeko Institut notes that the trend to eliminate these substances should be confirmed with the EEE supply chain given that Annex XIV authorization does not directly impact products that are brought into the EU as imported articles.
The substances in this subgroup are:
- Di-arsenic trioxide
- Di-arsenic pentoxide
- Tris(2-chloroethyl) phosphate (TCEP)
For the Annex XIV substances, Oeko Institut recommends “Assessment can be made at a later stage in light of the lower relevance to EEE. Main focus would be to realize if there is an impact to competitiveness in light of the Authorisation requirement or if manufacture has just moved elsewhere). It may be beneficial to have a survey of the supply chain in cooperation with industry, to clarify if its use in EEE is relevant and would justify a restriction to ensure the level of environmental safety is the same and whether the different trend of use causes impacts on competition between EU and non EU manufacturers.”
For the Annex XVII substances, Oeko Institut recommends “Assessment can be made at a later stage in light of the lower relevance to EEE. Main focus would be to realize if there is an environmental impact still expected from restriction.”
Subgroup 5: Varying use volume with low anticipation for presence in final product in light of intermediate applications
Recommendation: “Assessment can be prepared at later stage as restriction aimed at quantities present in end product and thus impact on use needs to be revisited.”
The substances include:
- Nickel sulphate
- Nickel bis (sulfamidate) /Nickel sulfamate
- Cobalt dichloride
- Cobalt sulphate
Subgroup 6: Low use volume in EEE and Assumed not to be in use in light of EU use trends
Oeko Institut sees minimal evidence at this time that restricting these substances would provide significant benefit. The substances in the subgroup include:
- Cobalt metal
- Dibromoneopentyl glycol
Recommendation: Assessment can be made at a later stage. It may be beneficial to have a survey of the supply chain in cooperation with industry, to clarify if its use in EEE is relevant and would justify a restriction to ensure the level of environmental safety is the same and whether the different trend of use causes impacts on competition between EU and non EU manufacturers.
Oeko Institut suggests that the assumption of “not to be in use” needs to be confirmed in the supply chain, particularly of articles imported from outside the EU.
ECD Compliance provides additional information and support on regulatory requirements and restricted substance controls for new substances.