RoHS working group will consider restricting five substances.

The European Commission will present proposals to restrict five additional substances under the EU’s Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive (RoHS), which applies to electrical and electronic equipment. Four of the substances – hexabromocyclododecane (HBCDD) and the phthalates DEHP, BBP and DBP – have already been assessed by the Austrian Environment Agency (UBA). These assessments are part of the RoHS 2 Annex II report, which UBA released on February 5. The consultancy Öko Institut is currently reviewing the fifth substance, the phthalate DIBP, and is expected to release results by the end of April.

The UBA’s assessments found that HBCDD, DEHP, BBP, and DBP pose unacceptable risks to workers’ health or the environment and thus should be added to Annex II of RoHS2. The report noted that the proposed bans would not be cost prohibitive, and safer alternatives are technical and economically feasible.

Under RoHS2 – a recast of RoHS adopted in 2011 – a first review of the list of restricted substances is required by July 2014. The Commission will establish a working group to review the priority list of substances, which was developed by UBA. Chemical Week reports that, according to the RoHS policy officer at the Commission’s Environment Directorate-General (DG Environment), the working group will include representatives from approximately three member states, various industries, DG Environment, and the Directorate-General for Enterprise and Industry.

In addition, the working group will consider the procedure for reviewing substances. The Directive does not require updating the review process, but the Annex II report examines issues associated with the methodology used for the substance assessments and makes recommendations for a four-year review cycle going forward. The report also discusses lessons learned from the substance review process, such as the scarcity of relevant information, the lack of integration of exposure estimates from waste treatment facilities, and overlaps with other legislation, like REACH. The Commission plans to release non-binding guidance on the review process near the end of the year.