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India’s RoHS Turns Up the Heat

Einstein's theory of relativity is alive and well in the electronics industry. The action: The EU's version of the Restriction on Hazardous Substances (RoHS) is approaching clarity. The reaction: India's version of RoHS appears to be as clear as mud. The EU has officially adopted a revised RoHS which clarifies a number of issues pertaining to the measure and bans six substances from electronics products sold in Europe. (See: Revised RoHS Directive Adopted in EU.)

Under the original version, the scope of products that were required to comply with RoHS left a lot of room for interpretation. The revision tightens those loopholes. Additionally, the EU revision specifies that cables and various attachments to electrical and electronics equipment must also comply with the law, which bans substances such as lead, mercury, and cadmium from electronics products sold in the EU.

India's version, which is moving closer toward its May 2012 implementation, limits the use of 20 substances from electronics products sold in India. Global distributor {complink 12809|element14}, which provides updates and analysis of global environmental legislation, has posted a summary of India's RoHS on its Website. According to element14, the proposals on waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) disposal:

  • do not say whether these substances are restricted or that manufacturers should attempt to avoid them
  • do not state whether the threshold values refer to the concentrations in the finished product, in homogeneous materials or something else
  • provide no exemptions or any mechanism for requesting exemptions
  • lack clarity of limits.

Inconsistencies among global environmental laws are an ongoing concern in the electronics industry, which has had to greatly modify is processes and materials to meet RoHS requirements. The ban of lead from solders used in manufacturing has been particularly irksome because non-leaded substitutes don't perform as well as leaded.

Some of the next set of challenges noted by element14: India's proposal requires that medical equipment adhere to the ban, while the EU version currently does not. India's RoHS also bans substances (including some flame retardants) that have no viable alternatives currently available.

Similar to the EU legislation, India will require manufacturers and importers to supply only “RoHS-compliant” products and to provide written documentation supporting compliance. This has also been an ongoing struggle in the electronics supply chain — documenting compliance often requires the disclosure of information that component makers regard as proprietary.

There's no question that electronics manufacturers will adhere to these measures. The industry has, with some difficulty, complied with the EU's RoHS. Within the past two years, China has passed its version of RoHS; now, so has India. The EU is an important but relatively small market for electronics manufacturers. China and India, on the other hand, are considered the two largest markets for electronics products in the world.

Either electronics manufacturers come up with new ways to build their products and keep users safe, or a race to develop new flame retardants is on.

9 comments on “India’s RoHS Turns Up the Heat

  1. Nemos
    June 13, 2011

    “The ban of lead from solders used in manufacturing has been particularly irksome because non-leaded substitutes don't perform as well as leaded”

    We must notice again and inform the readers how much dangerous material the Lead is for the human body. “Once lead gets into your body, it stays there for a long time. It builds up over time even if you're exposed to only small amounts of it. As lead builds up in your body, it can damage your brain, kidneys, nerves and blood cells.”

    The non-leaded substitutes dont perform as well as leaded only if you are using the same equipment. Non-leaded solders need higher temperatures for the soldering process.

     

  2. SunitaT
    June 13, 2011

    Barbara,

     Why cant there be a single version of Restriction on Hazardous Substances (RoHS) ? Why do we need different RoHS versions for different nations ?

  3. Barbara Jorgensen
    June 13, 2011

    Shortest answer–there is no single standards body overseeing global environmental regulations, such as the IEEE does in engineering or the IPC in board design and connectivity. Minus that, every country has its own priorities and drafts its own legislation. The electronics industry could conceivably form such a body, but would still have to get every country to agree to a standard once it's set.

  4. Barbara Jorgensen
    June 13, 2011

    Agreed on the toxicity of lead. I believe it stays in the soil and/or water for a very long time as well.

  5. Daniel
    June 14, 2011

    Barbara, in EU the RoHS laws are in force and they are amending it according to the requirements. I think India still didn’t have any such laws or regulations in force. They are planning to introduce a similar bill next year and drafting is under the consideration of government authorities. As per the details available to public (internet/news paper), it’s not updated or at par with any of the EU/ US law or standards. More over some of the restricted items have no alternate also, so I think before its formulating as a bill, it has to put for public or open debate. Rules and regulations are for citizen’s welfare and benefits, but it won’t be harmful for industrial growth also.

  6. saranyatil
    June 14, 2011

    Jacob,

    People in India already have Laws pertaining to RoHS. The main problem arises when they need to choose Lead free soldering.There are a few risks being identified, It requires high temperature that is huge use of energy which will lead to Air pollution, acid rains, global warming etc when compared to lead soldering.

  7. Jay_Bond
    June 14, 2011

    It would seem so much easier if there was a regulating body to establish global rules, rather than individual countries making certain rules based on their needs or wants. Multiple rules for various markets around the world means companies need to make products that fit into various regulations, or make various products. Either way it could be rather expensive for these companies to continue doing business.

  8. frontliner
    June 14, 2011

    I agree with Jay, that there should be an common international standard regarding the scope and applicability of ROHS.

     

    Typically in third world countires  (oops developing countries ), this directly leads to corruption. tenders are set in such a way that only few can participate in supplies or in development or production of any electronic or non electronic products.

    Products costing can go haywire if a manufacturer has to meet different standards for different countries.

  9. Ashu001
    June 15, 2011

    Barbara,

    This is totally unsurprising news.

    I was completely surprised by what I read here,


    • do not say whether these substances are restricted or that manufacturers should attempt to avoid them
    • do not state whether the threshold values refer to the concentrations in the finished product, in homogeneous materials or something else
    • provide no exemptions or any mechanism for requesting exemptions
    • lack clarity of limits.

    This is typical of what happens when Bueracrats and Parliamentarians who have no clue of what it takes to run an Industry/company are in charge of the Law making process.

    Its really sad it has to come down to this,India has the potential to be a thriving Hub not just for Exports but also for domestic consumption of all manner of Electronic Goods.This just makes it that much harder for Industry there to compete with the rest of the world.

    Regards

    Ashish.

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