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By: Steven M. Siros
In light of a recent study conducted on behalf of the European Commission (which is the executive body of the European Union (EU) responsible for proposing legislation), the Commission is expected to ban certain phthalates and flame retardants in electronic and electrical goods. More specifically, the Commission is expected to add a flame retardant (hexabromocyclododecane) and three phthalates (bis (2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), butyl benzyl phthalate (BBP), and dibutyl phthalate (DBP)) to Annex II of the Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive (RoHS). Under RoHS, Annex II chemicals are banned in electronic and electrical goods in excess of .1% weight.
The addition of these specific chemicals to the RoHS Annex II would most directly impact importers of electronic and electrical equipment into the EU as EU's REACH program has already banned the use of these chemicals in the EU after February 21, 2015 (unless specific use authorizations are obtained). As a general matter (subject to several exceptions), importers of electronic and electrical goods into the EU are not currently subject to REACH. However, compliance with RoHS is mandatory for all products produced and/or imported in the EU.
In reality, however, manufacturers of any product that contains phthalates would be well advised to take steps to ensure that the phthalate content in those products is below the .1% weight threshold. Numerous regulatory bodies have already banned phthalates in excess of the .1% weight threshold. For example, California's Prop. 65 regulations require notification where the phthalate content exceeds .1% in products sold in California.