European Union (EU) regulations designed to facilitate trade and promote competition within the 35-nation bloc are about to restrict what U.S. makers of electrical and electronic equipment can include in their products.
Beginning July 1, the EU's directive on the restriction of the use of certain hazardous substances (RoHS) will affect manufacturers of refrigerators, hair dryers, toasters and electric knives, laptop computers, lighting equipment and toys, among others, says Sharyl Reisman, a New York-based partner in the product liability and tort litigation practice of Jones Day, a global law firm. The restricted substances are mercury, cadmium, lead, hexavalent chromium, polybrominated biphenyls and polybrominated diphenyl esthers.
"Anybody who is selling products-importing, exporting [and] distributing in EU states-needs to be aware of these regulations," she stresses.
Actually, more than awareness will be required. Manufacturers need to identify the hazardous substances in their products, try to find suitable alternatives, and if alternatives are not available, check for exemptions for exemptions from the rules and possibly apply for exemptions, she states. What's more, electrical and electronic goods manufacturers need to "push back" on suppliers and insist they certify the components that they're providing comply with ROHS, emphasizes Reisman.