On August 3, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) issued a draft regulation, clearly based on the current European Union RoHS Directive, 2011/65/EU, for comment to the World Trade Organization Technical Barriers to Trade (WTO TBT) Committee.
The regulation proposes to cover the same 11 categories of Electrical and Electronic Equipment, provides the same scope exclusions, covers the same ten restricted substances (including the four newly added phthalates) and (incompletely) describes a conformity assessment process. However, this does not mean it is the same.
The conformity assessment criteria, addressed in Article 5, seem similar to the technical documentation requirements of EU RoHS, stating “Product(s) shall comply with Model A of conformity assessment.” Nowhere is “Model A” defined, nor is a specification defining the conformity assessment approach and requirements. There is, however, a definition of a “Conformity Assessment Form A”, but no form is provided nor is the form referenced elsewhere; perhaps “Model A” and “Form A” are the same? The Article also indicates that testing is required; however, of what and to what extent is not made clear. Reference is made to the Emirates Conformity Assessment Scheme (ECAS), but this does not appear to be available yet.
In Annex 6, reference is made to IEC 50581:2012. This is incorrect; the correct standard reference is EN 50581:2012. IEC did not publish this standard. EN 50581:2012 allows manufacturers to take a risk-based approach to determining the degree of compliance information needed based on part technology and supplier. The result is that test reports are not required for every single item included in a product’s bill(s) of material to comply with EU RoHS (if EN 50581:2012 is used). If test reports are required for UAE RoHS, compliance could be an expensive and onerous task.
Article 9, Provisions for the Transition Period, says that suppliers must “register the product(s) with ECAS within one year from the date of publication of this scheme in The Official Gazette.” Products available on the market before the date of publication can be sold until 1 January 2018. This implies that, once the final rule is published, products within the scope (except RoHS Categories 8 & 9) must comply immediately but any product already available on the market would not have to be pulled until the end of 2017. Category 8 & 9 products do not have to comply until 2020.
Interestingly, because of this timing the four phthalates recently restricted by the RoHS Directive as of 22 July 2019 would become restricted on 1 January 2018 in the UAE. This is a full eighteen months before they are restricted in the European Union.
The comment period is open for 60 days, through October 3. The draft is available in the USA through NIST’s Notify U.S. service (which all U.S. manufacturers with international markets should sign up for – it’s free; non-U.S.-based manufacturers should identify the WTO TBT member entity in their country), and elsewhere from WTO TBT members or from the WTO itself. The notification is here and the draft regulation is here.
I’d be interested in hearing your comments and feedback on this; do you agree or disagree with my interpretation?
Mike Kirschner is an environmental compliance and performance expert providing advice and expertise to manufacturers in a variety of industries. Mike helps manufacturers define, implement and troubleshoot internal product lifecycle management systems that result in compliant products. He also helps manufacturers understand, monitor and assess environmental regulations and related activities around the world including substance, e-waste, energy, climate change, and social requirements that affect product design and the supply chain. Mike was a member of the California EPA Department of Toxic Substance Control’s original Green Ribbon Science Panel, which advised on development of the Safer Consumer Products Regulations. Mike is currently serving on the American Chemical Society Green Chemistry Institute Governing Board and is co-moderator of the ANSI Chemicals Network. Mike founded product lifecycle and environmental consultancy Design Chain Associates, LLC (DCA) in 2001, where he serves as president and managing partner. Prior to founding DCA, Mike spent 20 years in engineering and engineering management roles in the electronics industry at manufacturers including Intel and Compaq. Mike can be reached at email@example.com.