RoHS remains a burning issue

19 May 2008

Representatives of the European Commission are being urged to attend a meeting about the directive.

IPC - Association Connecting Electronics Industries is urging technical experts from member companies and other stakeholders in the electronics industry to participate in a special meeting on 18 June 2008 in Brussels to discuss their concerns about RoHS expansion.

In a letter sent to its members last week, IPC detailed its concerns about the draft report issued by the Öko Institute; the organisation retained by the EU Commission to study the inclusion of additional substance restrictions in the RoHS directive.

In its report, the institute went beyond the framework initially set by the EU Commission and created new criteria and categories for inclusion within the RoHS directive, proposing that substances observed in the environment that cause concerns about combustion should be prohibited under RoHS.

This includes TBBPA (Tetrabromobisphenol A), the flame retardant used to protect more than 80% of PCBs and found to be safe by a comprehensive European Union Risk Assessment. In addition to TBBPA, the institute also suggests banning HBCDD (Hexabromocylcododecanes), several phthalate plasticizers, and all organic compounds containing chlorine and bromine.

IPC’s letter to its membership also reveals that institute staff denied IPC permission to attend a workshop it held for discussion of the report due to the fact that only, “scientific experts were invited.” IPC claims that the institute’s apparent clear disregard of the technical expertise within IPC and its membership coupled with its ambition to expand the scope of criteria beyond the EU Commission’s original intent sends concerns throughout the industry that scientific evidence is not driving the basis of the report.

While the institute chose to exclude some stakeholders from their meeting, IPC believes it is critical for all scientific evidence to be presented. Furthermore, IPC is hopeful that the meeting in Brussels will provide industry experts with an avenue to present their technical findings before a final decision is made by the EU Commission.

IPC also supports the ongoing objectives of unifying European chemicals regulation through REACH, opposing the institute’s concern for the need of more focused legislation on electronic and electrical equipment. According to IPC, the institute’s position for RoHS expansion would be largely inconsistent with the implementation of REACH, which is meant to be an overarching policy.

Technical experts and other interested parties wishing to attend IPC’s special meeting should click here.

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