Category Archives: nl2015q2

IEC –Analytical Test Methods Published for PBBs and PBDEs

IEC 62321-6/Ed.1:2015 revising analytical test methods for presence of Polybrominated biphenyls (PBB) and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) in plastic parts was published by the IEC in June 2015. IEC 62321-6 replaces the previous informative test method specified in annex A of IEC 62321:2008. This test method is applicable to all EEE products and suppliers.

The standard, titled “DETERMINATION OF CERTAIN SUBSTANCES IN ELECTROTECHNICAL PRODUCTS – Part 6: Polybrominated biphenyls and polybrominated diphenyl ethers in polymers by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS)” specifies 3 test method; one is normative and the other two are informative.

The test methods are:

  • The gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) (Normative);
  • The ion attachment mass spectrometry (IAMS) technique (Informative) and
  • The high-pressure liquid chromatography technique (Informative).

The informative test methods (IAMS and HPLC-UV) did not have sufficient accuracy and repeatability during Intra-laboratory testing trials and therefore could not be included as normative tests but they may still be useful to users and test laboratories. However, if a dispute arises over PBB/PBDE concentration, only the GC-MS method is considered a reliable test method for purposes of regulatory enforcement. Work is expected to continue in improving the accuracy of the informative test methods.

The test method standard is available from the IEC webstore and resellers.

The use of harmonized test methods has proven to be extremely important in ensuring that manufacturers, suppliers, and enforcement bodies are getting consistent results from analytical testing when performing regulatory assessments.

IEC 62321 is referenced by the European harmonized standard for RoHS technical documentation (EN 50581) as the test method that should be used for any test reports that are included in the technical documentation.

EEE Manufacturers that request test reports from suppliers should request and ensure that the revised test methods are being used (IEC 62321-1 through IEC 62321-6) instead of the original IEC 62321:2008.

EU – EcoDesign for enterprise servers and data equipment

The draft report on policy scenarios (task 7) for the EcoDesign (ErP) Directive lot 9 review on enterprise servers and data equipment was published in June 2015. The report emphasizes the same challenges that have been discussed throughout the lot 9 review – the difficulty in characterizing and specifying environment performance requirements of computer servers given the large variation in configuration, applications, and operating conditions.

The draft report included enterprise servers and enterprise storage within its scope, but excludes networking equipment because of the large variation in equipment. The report recommends that a future preparatory study should investigate networking equipment.

For the scope of enterprise servers, the report indicated that it is not excluding specific types of enterprise servers, such as server appliances, but does provide a caution to the European Commission… “However, it is strongly recommended to check the technical, economical and operational feasibility of particular eco-design measures for these products due to the fact that they could be custom made and utilized for high available or mission critical computing processes.”

Policy Recommendations
Five general policy measures and several sub measures were identified; however, there were few detailed technical recommendations other than the usual power supply efficiency which is also specified by U.S. Energy Star. The general policy measures and sub measures presented for further analysis and consideration by the European Commission are:

1.5.1. Product information before and during the operation Active State Information Criteria Idle State Information Criteria Energy proportional design / Dynamic Range

1.5.2. Product hardware components and configuration Power Supply Efficiency Reduction of Idle Power

1.5.3. Energy requirement on the overall energy performance
1.5.4. Product software components and configuration
1.5.5. Product operating conditions and energy management

1.5.6. Resource efficiency requirements Requirements on dismantling, re-use and recycling Requirements for technical documentation Critical raw material (CRM) voluntary declaration Energy consumption of servers and storage with reused components

1.5.7. Energy labelling

Minimizing idle state power has been a common requirement in many other Eco-design implementing measures (regulations). However, for enterprise servers the report recognizes that optimizing idle power could result in an overall negative environment impact.

Low idle power is easier to meet in low performance servers than in high performance servers that are optimized for performance per Watt at high usage levels. Enterprise servers (if configured efficiently using virtualization, etc.) tend to have high usage levels and are not often in an idle state. Therefore, mandating low idle power could result in purchasing of more low performance servers versus fewer high performance servers.

The current challenge in specifying practical requirements for Enterprise servers is epitomized by the statement in subsection 1.5.3. (Energy requirement on the overall energy performance) that reads

“The Lot 9 study recommends that in case reliable measurement methods will permit to provide a quantitative ranking between products in the future, specific requirements on the overall energy performance could be envisaged.”

Energy Star – Large Network Equipment Specification

The Energy Star program has published the second draft of the Large Network Equipment (LNE) Specification Version 1.0 and the final draft of the LNE test method. The U.S. EPA is requesting stakeholder comments on these documents until July 24, 2015.

The specification focuses on reporting energy consumption data, power supply efficiency and energy efficiency features. The EPA is expecting that testing and reporting of energy consumption data will help towards developing additional energy efficiency requirements for version 2.0 of the specification. The changes in the specification from the first draft to the second draft are listed in a cover letter from the EPA:

  • EPA proposed several significant changes to key definitions including LNE, modular and fixed, a new definition for module, and an expanded definition of product family for modular products. Physical Network Ports now also include fiber-optic ports.
  • EPA proposes inclusion of fiber-optic ports within the scope of this specification up to 40Gb/s or greater link rate capability.
  • EPA has clarified that power factor requirements only apply to ac input power supplies.
  • EPA has clarified that active state efficiency requirements will not be included in Version 1.0 of this specification, rather certified products will be required to generate and report data that will support setting active levels in Version 2.0. The other pass/fail requirements such as power supply efficiency and energy efficiency features will ensure Version 1.0 delivers savings.
  • EPA has proposed a family structure for modular products and stated the Agency’s interest in and considerations for a family structure for fixed products, though a fixed product family structure is not proposed in this draft.
  • EPA has added standard language on the definition of a representative model(s) in a product family.

Additionally, the following are some key elements of the proposed changes in LNE Final Draft Test Method:

  • DOE has added test procedures for High Port Count products, as well as configuration requirements pertaining to High Port Count testing.
  • DOE has increased the center-point and widened the range of the allowable ambient temperature required during testing.
  • DOE has changed the requirements for how to measure the power of products that have multiple PSUs.

The current draft Specification excludes the following products from the scope of LNE Energy Star certification:

  • Small Network Equipment;
  • Computer Servers, including blade switches sold within a Blade Server configuration;
  • Storage Products, including Blade Storage;
  • Storage Networking Products;
  • Security Appliances;
  • Access Point Controllers;
  • DSLAM/CMTS equipment;
  • Network Caching Devices; and
  • Load Balancing Devices.

Two Substances added to REACH SVHC Candidate List

The European Chemical Agency (ECHA), on June 15, 2015, added two new substances to the REACH SVHC Canadidate List. The substances are listed in the table below. The Article 33 communication obligations specified in the REACH regulation (Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006) came into effect as soon as the SVHCs were added to the REACH Candidate List,

Name of Substance or Substance GroupEC number CAS number
1,2-benzenedicarboxylic acid, di-C6-10-alkyl esters; 1,2-benzenedicarboxylic acid, mixed decyl and hexyl and octyl diesters with ≥ 0.3% of dihexyl phthalate (EC No. 201-559-5) 271-094-0
5-sec-butyl-2-(2,4-dimethylcyclohex-3-en-1-yl)-5-methyl-1,3-dioxane [1], 5-sec-butyl-2-(4,6-dimethylcyclohex-3-en-1-yl)-5-methyl-1,3-dioxane [2] [covering any of the individual stereoisomers of [1] and [2] or any combination thereof] --

The first substance is a mixture of two alkyl diesters when the mixture contains greater than 0.3% of dihexyl phthlate (DnHP). This SVHC listing will likely be confusing and a challenge for industries to manage. The two primary ingredients with the CAS numbers and EC Tnumbers listed are themselves not SVHCs; the mixture only becomes an SVHC with the Article 33 reporting obligations when it includes greater than 0.3% DnHP.

The second new listing in the REACH Candidate List is a substance group. The primary example listed by ECHA of this substance group is the product sold under the name “karanal” . ECHA indicates that the main use, according to public information, is as a fragrance.

For additional information on developing or assessing an effective REACH SVHC compliance program, contact ECD Compliance.


USA – Conflict Minerals Reporting Template Version 4.01

The cfsi Conflict Minerals Reporting Template (CMRT) for 2015 conflict minerals reporting was revised on June 12, 2015 to version 4.01. This is a minor update compared to version 4.0 which was published in April. Version 4.01 includes an up-to-date smelter list and corrected a couple of errors in Version 4.0. The Version 4.X series for CMRT are intended for conflict minerals reporting through 2015.

The changes from Version 3.X to 4.0 are relatively minor compared to the substantial changes from Version 2.X to 3.0.

RoHS Amendment adding Phthalates to Restricted Substances is Published

The European Delegated Directive (EU) 2015/863 officially adding the four (4) Phthalate substances to the EU RoHS Directive was published today, June 4, 2015.  The new phthalate restrictions take effect beginning July 22, 2019 for all EEE except category 8 (medical devices) and category 9 (monitoring and control instruments). Category 8 and 9 products have an additional 2 years and need to comply by July 22, 2021. EEE manufacturers and their suppliers now have just over four years to prepare.

The amendment adds the four phthalates shown below to Annex II (Restricted substances referred to in Article 4(1) and maximum concentration values tolerated by weight in homogeneous materials) of the the RoHS Directive . A maximum concentration value of 0.1% w/w in homogeneous material was specified for the phthalates in the amendment.

Four Phthalate Substances to be Added to RoHS Directive

Substance NameCAS NumberMaximum Concentration
in homogeneous material
Bis(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP)117-81-70.1%
Benzyl butyl phthalate (BBP)85-68-70.1%
Dibutyl phthalate (DBP)84-74-20.1%
Diisobutyl phthalate (DIBP)84-69-50.1%

Spare Parts and Cables

The official publication of the amendment was delayed by a few months to allow the European Commission time to add verbiage clarifying the implication on cables and spare parts.  This new text aligns with the general RoHS intention to allow products to be repaired using the same parts that were used in the original product when if was first put on the EU market.  The published amendment states:

The restriction of DEHP, BBP, DBP and DIBP shall not apply to cables or spare parts for the repair, the reuse, the updating of functionalities or upgrading of capacity of EEE placed on the market before 22 July 2019, and of medical devices, including in vitro medical devices, and monitoring and control instruments, including industrial monitoring and control instruments, placed on the market before 22 July 2021.

Phthalates in Electrical/Electronic Toys

The amendment is also explicit that the phthalates in toys restriction in Annex XVII of the REACH regulation takes precedence over the maximum concentration levels in the RoHS Directive.

What’s the Impact? How to Proceed?

The four phthalates are already listed on the REACH SVHC Candidate List — this gives manufacturers that have REACH SVHC information from their suppliers a head start in assessing  the parts and materials that require substitution.  However, the different basis for calculating concentration level between REACH and RoHS (article vs. homogeneous material) will undoubtedly create some surprises.

In electrical and electronic equipment (EEE), DEHP is generally considered to be the most commonly used of the four phthalates. DBP and BBP also have known applications; whereas DIBP is considered to have minimal usage within the EEE supply chain.

The results of a study published in 2010 at the IPC APEX conference “Where are REACH SVHC in Electronic Products and Parts?” may provide some insight to the use and prevalence of these substances.  The study investigated and compiled analytical test results for the initial batch of SVHCs added to the REACH Candidate List (including 3 of the phthalates just added to RoHS). The analytical testing was performed in Asia, North America, and Europe on EEE and materials typically used in EEE.  DEHP was detected above the SVHC threshold (0.1% wt/wt in the article) in 64 of 391 testing results (16%). The study was focused on the REACH SVHC threshold which is based on articles.  However, had the study considered a concentration threshold based on homogeneous material, the number of products above the threshold would likely have been much higher.

In the time since 2010, many manufacturers that have been trying to eliminate SVHCs from their product have removed the phthalates from external cables (where they are above 0.1% in the article); but DEHP may still be present in internal cables which are relatively small and for which the phthalate content did not trigger the 0.1% threshold based on imported article.

Additional information on RoHS 2 compliance and RoHS 2 Technical Documentation is available. The amendment to the RoHS Directive is posted on the Official Journal of the EU. ECD Compliance provides services to track environmental regulations and can assist in upgrading your RoHS program to address the phthalate restrictions.

European Parliament Votes Mandatory Conflict Minerals Regulation – May 2015

The European Parliament vote on May 20, 2015 to push back on the European Commission’s proposed voluntary self-certification scheme for a mandatory system of

  • certification for importers of minerals to produce tin, tungsten, tantalum, and gold (3TG),
  • third-party audits for refiners and smelters to their check due diligence practices and
  • information on due diligence measures by downstream companies.

The European Parliament press release states:

In addition, “downstream” companies, that is, the 880 000 potentially affected EU firms that use tin, tungsten, tantalum and gold in manufacturing consumer products, will be obliged to provide information on the steps they take to identify and address risks in their supply chains for the minerals and metals concerned.

The EU proposal potentially covers sourcing from any conflict area, not limiting the scope of the due diligence measures to only the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) region.

The press release is available from European Parliament press release.

ECD Compliance clients will be receiving additional analysis and potential impacts of the Parliament’s approved changes in the upcoming Environmental Report.




China RoHS 2 Proposal – May 2015

China RoHS 2 is once again moving forward.  An updated draft regulation titled “Management Methods for the Restriction of the Use of Hazardous Substances in Electric and Electronic Products (Draft for Comments)” was released on May 18 for public comment. It reveals several changes compared to the previous 2013 version.

The draft regulation is applicable to the production, sale, and import of electrical and electronic products. Unlike the original China RoHS, the draft does not provide an exclusion for products that are intended for export (presumably to help ensure that exported products meet the RoHS restrictions imposed by other countries).

Similar to the previous China RoHS 2 draft, the scope of products (compared to the original China RoHS) is expanded to “Electrical and electronic products”, but, this time, with an explicit exclusion for power generation, transmission and distribution equipment. The definition of “Electrical and electronic products” refers to devices and accessory products which function by means of current or electromagnetic fields. The definition utilizes the same voltage limits used by the EU RoHS Directive — rated working electrical voltages of no more than 1500 volts direct current and 1000 volts alternating current.

Hazardous substances are defined as the six original RoHS substances, with a seventh entry for other harmful substances, leaving the door open to restrict additional substances.

The draft regulation maintains the marking and communication obligations of the original China RoHS, including the “environmental protection use period” and the table identifying harmful substances and their location in the product. However, the requirements for the table of harmful substances has been clarified/expanded.

Similar to the original China RoHS, a catalog will list products that are subject to substance restrictions.  The catalog will be developed and maintained by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) in consultation with other departments.

A conformity assessment system will be established for ensuring restricted substance conformity of products that are listed in the compliance management catalog. This replaces the CCC certification specified in the original China RoHS.

Requirements on product packaging, which were removed from earlier China RoHS 2 proposals, have now been added back in. The packaging for all manufactured or imported electrical and electronic products must meet all applicable standards and laws. Manufacturers and importers should also adopt the use of materials that are non-hazardous, easily biodegradable and/or facilitate recycling/reuse.

Section III on “Punitive Provisions” identifies requirements that are subject to penalties if not met, including substance restrictions, labelling of the product with the environmental protection use period, names and content of hazardous substances, and packaging conformity. The paragraph on the hazardous substances table is particularly detailed, suggesting that MIIT expects producers and importers to be in full compliance and not take any short-cuts.

The draft is available from the Legislative Affairs Office of the  State Council P.R. China (in Chinese). The public comment period ends June 17, 2015.

For additional information, contact ECD Compliance. Clients will be receiving additional analysis and discussion of potential impact of the proposal in the next environmental report.


EU – European Parliament Vetos RoHS Exemption

The Members of the European Parliament, on May 20 2015, vetoed a RoHS exemption for cadmium in illumination and display lighting applications, claiming that the exemption was no longer necessary.   Although the exemption is only used in very specific applications and will not affect most EEE manufacturers, it sets a disconcerting precedent that the parliament will no longer automatically approve all new exemptions and renewals that are approved by the Commission and the RoHS technical adaption committee (TAC).

RoHS Annex III exemption 39 “Cadmium in colour converting II-VI LEDs (less than 10 microgram Cd per mm2 of light-emitting area) for use in solid state illumination or display systems” was set to expire on 1 July 2014. A manufacturer (QD-Vision) submitted in December 2012 a renewal request to extend the exemption to 2019. After the public consultation and consultant’s assessment, the Commission and the TAC agreed to reword and extend the exemption as shown below:

In Annex III to Directive 2011/65/EU, point 39 is replaced by the following:

39(a)Cadmium in colour converting II-VI LEDs (< 10 μg Cd per mm2 of light-emitting area) for use in solid state illumination or display systemsExpires on 30 June 2017
39(b)Cadmium in downshifting cadmium based semiconductor nanocrystal quantum dots for use in display lighting applications (< 0.2 μg Cd per mm2 of display screen area)Expires on 30 June 2018

The current exemption (39) remains in effect while the three arms of the EU government reconcile the status of the exemption.

The European Parliament voted down the exemption by a strong majority (618 votes to 33 and 28 abstentions) arguing that alternate technologies that do not use cadmium are readily available.

This exemption only affects a small number of manufacturers. The more disconcerting impact for industry is that Parliament has served notice that it may be looking over the Commission’s shoulder during the current renewal of most Annex III exemptions.

Germany – Environment Agency Suggests Extending SVHC Authorisation to Imports

The Germany Environment Agency (UBA) has published a report which suggests and argues that the REACH authorisation procedure could be extended to imported articles. The prevailing view from ECHA and the European Commissions has been that authorisation only applies to the use within the EU of Annex XIV (Authorisation List) chemicals. This has been a long standing sore point for EU manufacturers that feel disadvantaged compared to foreign manufacturers that are not subject to such requirements.

The UBA report is available from their website. They’ve provided the following introduction to their report

The EU might introduce an authorization scheme for imported goods such as clothing, sports gear and toys in the REACH Regulation, to aim at a better protection of humans and the environment against Substances of Very High Concern in articles. An UBA study claims that the necessary amendment of the EU chemicals regulation REACH would not breach international trade law. Another simple improvement could be achieved by introducing a standardized communication format to oblige manufacturers to indicate not only the name of the Substances of Very High Concern, but also the concentrations, total volumes and information about hazardous properties and safe use and disposal through the production chain.

The UBA report is another step towards making foreign manufacturers who import products into the EU accountable and on a level playing field with EU manufacturers. Given that the report was published in English rather than in German, it may be intended as part of a lobbying/publicity campaign. It would take several years to implement such regulatory changes. It’s too early to take specific actions based on this report; however, it further emphasizes the motivation to design out any SVHCs that remain as constituents in your products.