SEMI recently shared industry feedback with the European Commission on the roadmap for reviewing RoHS (the Directive on the restriction of the use of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment). SEMI brought the following topics to the attention of the European Commission:
- There exist serious inconsistencies between RoHS and REACH, e.g. different product information requirements, contradictory restrictions for certain substances, and inconsistent ways of calculating action threshold concentrations. In addition, it is not clear why certain material restrictions have been included in REACH but not in RoHS (e.g. PFOA). The requirement to ensure EEE compliance with both RoHS and REACH is damaging for manufacturers with complex and global supply chains.
- RoHS-like laws in other countries are not realized with the same detailed requirements of RoHS. Exemptions by certain RoHS-like laws are not harmonized with RoHS, and as far as one can tell they do not expire. The basic facts about other laws in other countries should be considered by the EU in the hopes that more harmony could be built into RoHS.
- Retaining LSSIT and LSFI exclusions in RoHS is critically important to the semiconductor industry. The justifications for their exclusion from the first two versions of RoHS are equally valid today. While some equipment categories are no longer excluded, retaining the LSSIT and LSFI exclusions allows most used equipment – vital to semiconductor manufacturing in Europe – to continue to be imported.
- It is an economically beneficial and environmentally sound strategy to extend the useful life of semiconductor manufacturing equipment as long as possible by facilitating the acquisition of used equipment. Imported used equipment is a first placing on the EU market and carries an obligation to confirm the compliance of the equipment with RoHS. Yet, it is most likely that neither the importer nor the non-EU seller of the used equipment (who is not necessarily the OEM) can access component information necessary for compliance for the following reasons:
- They have no access to OEM design information.
- New research of most components cannot be done because components are not marked with complete origin information.
- Component OEMs are non-responsive or no longer in business.
Thus, while RoHS does not currently support EU imports of used equipment, used equipment already on the EU market may be sold and resold without any RoHS burdens. Many businesses in Europe rely on imported used equipment. If adjustments are not made to RoHS, this will eventually hamper Europe’s competitiveness and jeopardize its industrial policy goals.
- Although components themselves do not have to be CE marked for RoHS compliance, they must be RoHS-compliant for the sake of the equipment into which they are assembled. Requesting a RoHS compliance declaration for components is the most common way supply chains answer this requirement. However, RoHS compliance can depend on one or more exemptions, all of which eventually expire. A component in a warehouse that is compliant today might not be compliant next year. Actors in the supply chain have invented a variety of custom contract requirements to gather exemption-use information for components. The way forward with significant benefits is to require a RoHS declaration of compliance to exemptions relied upon to achieve RoHS compliance. This could standardize supply chain communications and reduce costs. Therefore, it is recommended that the RoHS Annex VI DoC criteria be amended to include an additional element to the effect of “Where applicable, references to the relevant exemptions given in Annex III and Annex IV on which conformity depends.”
If you have any questions on these issues, please contact Emir Demircan, senior manager, Advocacy and Public Policy, SEMI Europe, [email protected], +32 (0) 2 609 53 18.