Last reviewed 18 February 2021

Anyone who manufactures, imports or distributes electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) for the Great Britain market is responsible for ensuring that levels of certain hazardous substances and chemicals are not exceeded.

Under the Restriction of the Use of Certain Hazardous Substances in Electrical and Electronic Equipment Regulations 2012 (the RoHS Regulations, as amended), economic operators in Great Britain and Northern Ireland must be able to identify who supplied them and who they supplied for 10 years following the placing on the market of EEE.

However, they may be granted an exemption if the use of the restricted substance is listed in the exemptions criteria in the regulations and one or more of the following applies:

  • the use of the restricted substance will not weaken environment and health protection provided by the REACH Regulations

  • substitutes for a restricted substance are not scientifically or technically practicable or reliable

  • the negative social, health and consumer impacts of the substitute are greater than the benefits.

Full details are set out in new guidance published by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and the Office for Product Safety and Standards.

Restriction of hazardous substances (RoHS) exemptions: how to apply explains that applicants for an exemption must carry out research and provide documents, including:

  • test results on the suitability of substitutes and any other technical and scientific documentation supporting the request

  • a lifecycle assessment carried out according to ISO 14040, ISO 14044, including a product carbon footprint and cost benefit analysis

  • socio-economic data in as much detail as possible (if possible, and available, documents in these first three categories should all be third-party certified)

  • documents from suppliers on the availability or non-availability of substitutes

  • roadmaps for further technical development of RoHS regulation compliant substitute applications, and

  • REACH-relevant documentation such as registrations or applications for authorisation.

“If you’re applying for a new exemption,” the guidance notes, “you should apply no later than 18 months before the substance you are applying for an exemption for comes under scope of the RoHS Regulations.”