Flame retardant substitution activities in electrical and electronic equipment: RoHS, (EU impact assessment) and stakeholder positions

RoHS recast: Members of European Parliament find compromise on halogenated Flame Retardants
The Directive on the Restriction on the use of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment (RoHS, 95/2002/EC) is currently being revised by the European institutions. For the European Parliament, its Environmental Committee is in charge of this legislation. It had initially been proposed to include brominated and chlorinated flame retardants in the list of restricted substances. Later, after intensive discussion, a new proposal was forwarded with brominated and chlorinated flame retardants to be listed in an Annex priority list for further review by the Commission. In addition, it was suggested to include the statement "The technical development of electrical and electronic equipment without heavy metals, brominated flame retardants, chlorinated flame retardants, PVC and hazardous plasticisers [...] should be taken into account." The Environment Committee will discuss the RoHS recast beginning of June 2010 and possibly adopt the amendments. The next step is the first reading in the plenary, forecast for July 5th, 2010.  For more details see: Status of RoHS recast in European Parliament:
Status in European Commission:

EU Impact Assessment on Flame Retardant Substitution
In the course of discussions on restricting all brominated and chlorinated flame retardants in the revised RoHS directive an impact assessment was commissioned to Europe Economics, a London based consultancy. The study analyses the feasibility of substitution to alternative halogen-free flame retardants and PVC-free products and assesses the likely impact of the European Parliament's amendments to the RoHS Directive. The overall conclusion for flame retardants is that there could be considerable health benefits for the replacement of halogenated flame retardants, but that the environmental benefit is ambiguous. However, the study lacks fundamental environmental, technical and market knowledge, and the authors concede that they could not perform a thorough study within the given time frame and due to data gaps. Indicative price ranges of flame retardants are given in a pinfa* presentation to the European Parliament.

For more details see: Impact Assessment of some of the European Parliament's amendments on the Commission Recasting Proposal on RoHS (Version May 2010):
pinfa presentation to European Parliament Environment Committee

Key computer manufacturers take position

Acer, Dell, Hewlett Packard and Sony Ericsson have taken positions supporting a ban on all brominated flame retardants in electrical and electronic equipment. The companies support not only proposals to ban hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD) in addition to decabromodiphenyl ether (Deca-BDE; already banned) under the EU RoHS Directive currently under revision, but also suggest that all brominated FRs should be included in this ban.

Hewlett Packard (HP) notes that such a ban is "technically feasible", and that HP itself intends to completely phase out brominated FRs from all newly introduced personal computer products from 2011. ACER is quoted as telling the EU Parliament that such a ban is necessary in order not to delay the introduction of products not containing brominated flame retardants (FRs) onto the market. ACER already introduced several brominated FR- free Aspire models in January 2010. Sony Ericsson has stated its commitment to a complete phase-out of halogenated organic substances from its products. Dell is quoted as supporting a full ban in 2015.

For more details: Hewlett Packard position: http://www.hp.com/hpinfo/globalcitizenship/environment/pdf/leadposition.pdf

ACER position: http://www.evertiq.com/news/16573  

OEM companies' and NGO (European Environment Bureau) joint statement: http://www.eeb.org/EEB/index.cfm?LinkServID=AC143499-00BA-5F1E-B1F6C8FD3BAC76F3


* pinfa : Phosphorus, Inorganic & Nitrogen Flame Retardants Association