By the time you read this, the RoHS deadline will be upon us. The past six to eight months have shown how the scramble to be compliant can really boost the market, especially in Europe where they are much more politically committed to comply. After all, that's where the initiative was developed and where it will soon be enforced. The US market may be slower to comply with many companies projecting a November date for compliance. Lead times of non-compliant parts are getting longer as a result of the rush to become compliant and companies are starting to add more items to their end-of-life list.
According to Digitimes.com, "RoHS-related business and services will continue to grow through the third quarter of this year, well past the July 1, 2006 RoHS deadline. At that point, RoHS services are expected to drop slightly and flatten for some time." Some distributors are surprised by the lack of demand for compliant parts, but this may be due to the many concerns Americans have - some of whom claim this is more of a political issue than an environmental one. As more and more component manufacturers discontinue their leaded versions, the exempt industries are looking for ways to switch to lead-free parts without risking tin whiskers growth and other reliability issues that lead product failure.
Then comes the issue of enforcement now that the deadline is here. Enforcement guidance was just issued in May of this year and it is not even legally binding. RoHS enforcement agencies in Europe rely mostly manufacturers to declare whether or not they are lead free. Some manufacturers who were lead free before this directive was issued have not conducted much research and will have trouble producing compliance certifications or any proof of compliance. Here in the US, no federal legislation mandates the change yet, but some states, like California are following closely in the European Union's footsteps as environmental groups continue to push the issue.
Many small companies are unaware of the methods of enforcement, but according to Electronics Weekly, they can be affected on three different levels. The product may be barred from a country - meaning lost revenue. Secondly, they can be fined. And in some countries, like Greece, individuals could face prison for flagrant violations. Sooner or later we will hear news stories of high profile companies, in Europe especially, being penalized for non-compliance, so it is definitely a matter to take seriously.
Clearly the issues brought up from RoHS compliance will be debated for years to come. With over 450 million consumers in 25 states as members of the EU, it is a priority to meet these challenges.
The following links were provided by U.S. Commercial Service
Where do I find EU product legislation? http://europa.eu.int/comm/enterprise/newapproach/legislation/guide/legislation.htm
Under industry sectors on http://europa.eu.int/comm/enterprise/sectors_en.htm
If I'm only interested in CE mark legislation, where do I go?
Where can I find a list of European standards?
In the event that I need the services of an EU notified body (test laboratory), where do I obtain a list?
Websites for test laboratories other than notified bodies: