There are several major European Union environmental rules on materials have a significant effect on what can go into or onto your products: the directives on ELV (end-of-life vehicles), WEEE (waste electrical and electronic equipment), RoHS (restriction of hazardous substances), REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals), CLP (Classification and Labeling of Products). Between them these European regulations are affecting the use of chemicals all over the world, and even if you do no business whatsoever in Europe, your products are likely to be affected by these rules.
REACH – “No data, no market!” – The most far-reaching and most complex of all of the materials regulations in the world is the European REACH legislation,which came into force in June 2007. In order to be sold or used in the European market every chemical must be registered, together with information about its uses and environmental and health effects. REACH has established a list of SVHCs (Substances of Very High Concern), which ultimately will be restricted to certain uses or will require any company that sells or uses them in Europe to be authorized to do so. Even companies that do no business in Europe at all are still finding themselves affected because REACH is leading to loss of chemicals from the marketplace across the world, as users can no longer sell them in Europe or deselect them in order to avoid liability risk. Unlike other European regulations REACH has no exemptions, even for military and aerospace use.
CLP/GHS – Classification, Labeling and Packaging of Substances and Mixtures/ Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals. most of the nations of the world, including the US, have now signed on to the GHS, this purpose is to make labeling of chemicals uniform throughout the world so that, among other things, warning labels can be understood everywhere. In addition the GHS requires the use of an SDS (Safety Data Sheet) in place of the MSDS (Materials Safety Data Sheet) with which most companies are familiar.
RoHS – The far-reaching RoHS rule places strict limits on the use of lead, mercury, cadmium, Cr6+ and two brominated fire retardants in a wide range of electrical and electronic products. This rule has forced the elimination of lead solder from all commercial electronic products throughout the world, as well as the elimination of most cadmium and chromate conversion used in electrical systems. RoHS was recast in June 2011 to broaden its scope and change the number of uses that are exempt from the regulations. Military, aerospace and large-scale equipment remain exempt.
ELV – The first of the three major EU environmental directives, effective since 1993, the ELV rule restricts the use of lead, mercury, cadmium and Cr6+ on new vehicles. As a result of ELV, cadmium-plated bolts and chromate conversion of zinc and aluminum are no longer used on most vehicles.
WEEE – WEEE applies to new electrical and electronic equipment. The WEEE directive is a broad set of regulations that, like the ELV mandate, is designed to keep toxic pollutants out of the waste stream, and especially out of landfills.