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WEEE and RoHS: an overview

Companies selling electrical goods in the European Union must conform to the EU legislation for electrical and electronic equipments (EEE), which includes:

The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (WEEE), which sets out the financial and other responsibilities of EEE producers with regard to the collection and recycling of waste from a broad range of EEE at their end of life.

The Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive (RoHS), which bans the use of certain hazardous substances (such as lead, mercury, cadmium, hexavalent chromium and some polybrominated flame-retardants) in EEE. RoHS allows possible exemptions.

WEEE and RoHS lay out results that must be achieved by the European countries, but each country is free to choose the means of achieving those results when transposing European rules into national laws. A country may even chose to implement laws that are more stringent than that required. Therefore, when exporting to Europe, you need to comply with national law in the country/countries you seek to export to, which may differ considerably from country to country.

WEEE and RoHS Directives are complex pieces of legislation working together. In particular, their scope is linked which means they both apply to the same range of products (with some differences).

This website provides information on the scope of the Directives, implementation status and requirements for producers, the revision procedure and timeline, as well as additional information resources.

In publishing these webpages, the U.S. Department of Commerce aims to assist U.S. companies in selling electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) to Europe. To complement this information, the U.S. Department of Commerce has published a report giving an overview of WEEE and RoHS. For a copy of the report, please send an email to: lucie.mattera@trade.gov.

Highlights

Turkey has recently adopted a new RoHS law designed to bring it into line with the EU. Details can be found on our countries page.

The EU has added a new exemption to the RoHS directive on toxic substances in electronic goods and renewed one that expired in 2009. The changes appeared in the official journal on Monday following recommendations made in July. The new exemption covers lead used in some ceramic materials inside capacitors. This is "technically impracticable" to replace, the European Commission says. It also decided to allow use of cadmium in photoresistors for analog optocouplers in audio equipment until 2014. Research on replacements is already underway.

WEEE/RoHS webpage

For detailed information on WEEE (including scope, legal documents and FAQs), please click here.

For detailed information on RoHS (including scope, legal documents, exemptions, enforcement procedures and FAQs), please click here.

WEEE/RoHS revision

The WEEE Directive is currently under the process of being revised by the EU.

The WEEE Directive is currently under revision, and a decision is expected in October 2011. For information on the review of the WEEE Directive, please click here.

The RoHS revision has concluded, and the official text of RoHS II was released in June 2011. For information on the review of the RoHS Directive, please click here.

The U.S. Department of Commerce makes every effort to keep the information relating to the review - including the legislative proposals, procedure and timeline - up-to-date.

WEEE/RoHS country-by-country information

The EU’s WEEE and RoHS Directives are implemented in EU Member States countries by national WEEE and RoHS regulations, which differ considerably from country to country. Therefore, we strongly urge U.S. companies to get further information on WEEE and RoHS in the countries where they seek to export by clicking here.  

FYI: Countries others than EU Member States, such as Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Turkey, may have similar legislation.

Need more?

For further information and assistance resources, please click here.

For companies seeking in-depth technical or legal assistance with compliance issues relating to WEEE and RoHS, the Commercial Service provides a list of Business Service Providers who have track records in providing multi-country solutions and services. This webpage gives also access to our list of Business Services Providers.