Toxic substances in electrical and electronic equipment
Electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) often contains toxic or otherwise harmful substances, which may be released into the environment or form even more toxic substances when waste (WEEE) is treated.
The original Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) Directive, adopted in 2003, phased out a first series of hazardous substances in EEE, namely certain heavy metals and two groups of brominated flame retardants, to reduce the problems created by them during waste treatment.
In the recast proposal for the Directive, the Commission suggested expanding its scope to include two more product categories, but did not propose that restrictions be imposed on any new substances.
What was the Greens' position?
The Greens strongly advocated the avoidance of environmental damage at source, arguing that it is far better to prevent the use of highly problematic substances or materials in the first place than to try and treat them to remedy such damage when they have become waste.
Accordingly, we called for a ban on PVC and halogenated flame retardants in EEE.
We also sought to give the recast RoHS Directive its own methodology and strict criteria for future restrictions, separate from REACH, and to enshrine this in legislation rather than delegate the development of a future methodology to the Commission.
In addition, we wanted the criteria for granting exemptions from bans to be kept as constrictive as possible.
Finally, we strove for the inclusion of stringent provisions on nanomaterials.
Did other MEPs accept the Greens' position?
The Greens succeeded in establishing a proper framework for future restrictions on hazardous substances in EEE separate from the regular procedure defined under the Regulation on chemicals and their safe use (REACH).
We defended the inclusion of a reference to three phthalates and one brominated flame retardant, to be prioritised in the next review.
We also managed to prompt a re-investigation of some previously assessed substances (including PVC and halogenated flame retardants) and successfully defended limited exemption criteria.
Finally, we succeeded in introducing a specific mention that nanomaterials will be looked at specifically in the context of future reviews of restrictions.
Which points did the Greens lose?
The Greens were unable to go even further and secure the phasing out of hazardous substances like PVC and halogenated flame retardants in EEE because the EPP, ALDE and S&D all opposed this, defending different substances, probably prompted by industry lobbyists.
Opposition from the Council also prevented us from securing strong provisions on nanomaterials (including bans on the use of nanosilver and carbon nanotubes, the introduction of a notification scheme for nanomaterials used in EEE, and stringent labelling requirements).
Finally, we failed to secure an outright ban on nanomaterials (some of which are associated with health risks), in EEE, even though their impact on health has not yet been fully researched.
Procedure:Ordinary legislative procedure
Lead MEP:Jill Evans (GREENS/EFA)
Green MEP responsible:Jill Evans
Staff contact:Axel Singhofen (Email)
Outcome of the vote
Below you find the results of the final vote in plenary. How did the political groups vote? What about national delegations? And what was the position of your MEP?