Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland

RoHS: Restrictions on hazardous substances

The Restriction of the Use of Certain Hazardous Substances in Electrical and Electronic Equipment (RoHS) Regulations 2012 affect businesses and individuals that are involved with electrical and electronic equipment (EEE). This includes manufacturers, importers and distributors.

The regulations:

  • limit the use of hazardous substances such as lead and cadmium in EEE to be placed or made available on the market anywhere in the European Union, and
  • require that finished EEE be CE marked.

This guide explains the main requirements of the RoHS Regulations 2012, who they affect and how they are enforced.

Additional resources


Who is affected by the RoHS directive

The Restriction of the Use of Certain Hazardous Substances in Electrical and Electronic Equipment (RoHS) Regulations 2012 could affect your business if you:

  • manufacture electrical and electronic equipment (EEE)
  • import new EEE into the European Union (EU)
  • distribute new EEE in the EU

Equipment covered by RoHS

The RoHS regulations apply to EEE equipment for use with a voltage of up to 1,000 volts AC or 1,500 volts DC, placed on the market on or after 2 January 2013, in the following groups:

  • large household appliances, eg fridges, radiators and air conditioning appliances
  • small household appliances, eg sewing machines, toasters and clocks
  • IT and telecommunications equipment, eg computers and their accessories, calculators and phones
  • consumer equipment, eg TVs, radios and musical instruments
  • lighting equipment, eg lamps, electric light bulbs and luminaires
  • electrical and electronic tools, eg drills, welding equipment and lawnmowers (except large-scale stationary industrial tools)
  • toys, leisure and sports equipment, eg electric train sets, video games and slot machines
  • automatic dispensers, eg drinks, food and money dispensers
  • from 23 July 2019 any products in the categories above that were not covered by the RoHS Regulations 2008
  • from 22 July 2016, in vitro diagnostic medical devices
  • from 22 July 2014, other medical devices, eg radiotherapy equipment, dialysis equipment and specialist medical freezers and refrigerators
  • from 22 July 2017, industrial monitoring and control instruments,
  • from 22 July 2014: other monitoring and control instruments, eg smoke detectors, heating regulators and other domestic and laboratory measuring devices.
  • from 23 July 2019, two wheeled electric vehicles which are not type approved
  • from 23 July 2019, all other EEE products not covered by any of the categories above, except those that are specifically exempted

For EEE first placed on the market between 1 July 2006 and 2 January 2013, the requirements from RoHS Regulations 2008, as amended. For guidance about those see RoHS Regulations Government Guidance Notes URN 11/526

RoHS Regulations Government Guidance Notes URN 11/526

If you put goods covered by RoHS onto the EU market, they must not contain more than the allowed levels of certain hazardous substances.

Equipment not covered by RoHS

The RoHS Regulations do not apply to some EEE equipment, including:

  • arms, munitions and war material intended for military purposes;
  • equipment designed to be sent into space;
  • equipment to be installed as part of another type of equipment to which the RoHS Regulations do not apply, and which can be replaced only by the same specifically designed equipment;
  • large-scale stationary industrial tools;
  • large-scale fixed installations;
  • means of transport for persons or goods (excluding electric two-wheeled vehicles which are not type-approved);
  • non-road mobile machinery made available exclusively for professional use;
  • active implantable medical devices;
  • some photovoltaic panels for permanent use at a defined location ;
  • equipment for research and development only made available on a business-to-business basis.

In addition, there are a number of other cases (exemptions) where the regulations do not apply. These exemptions are listed in Annexes III and IV of the RoHS Directive 2011/65/EU and you can find them also in the National Measurement Office (NMO) RoHS guidance:

GOV.UK:Compliance and guidance on exemptions

The lists will be updated from time to time. You can apply for the inclusion of additional exemptions from the regulations.according to Article 5 and Annex V of the RoHS Directive 2011/65/EU.

Finding out if RoHS applies to your EE

There are cases where it may not be clear to you if a certain EE is covered by RoHS or not. For those cases see the FAQ document for RoHS 2, from the European Commission.

European commission - ROHS 2 FAQ guidance

Further information

GOV.UK: RoHS Guidance

Government guidance notes for RoHS 2

How to become RoHS compliant

If you manufacture, import or distribute (including retailers) , on the EU market, goods covered by the RoHS Regulations you must ensure they do not contain more than a maximum permitted level of the following hazardous substances:

  • lead
  • cadmium
  • mercury
  • hexavalent chromium
  • polybrominated biphenyls (PBB) flame retardants
  • polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) flame retardants.

This maximum concentration is:

  • for cadmium, 0.01 per cent or 1,000 parts per million by weight of homogeneous material, and
  • for any of the other five substances, 0.1 per cent or 100 parts per million by weight of homogeneous material.

The RoHS Regulations 2012 set different obligations on:

  • manufacturers of EEE,
  • their authorised representatives,
  • importers of EEE and
  • distributors of EEE.

If you have more than one of these roles, you will have the corresponding duties from each of those. You, must be able to prove that you are complying with the regulations

The National Measurement Office (NMO) has produced guidance for UK businesses that provides detail on the obligations for each of the cases.

National Measurement Office - Guidance to RoHS Directive 2011/65/EU

Further information

National Measurement Office – RohS Guidance

Government guidance notes for RoHS 2

Who enforces the RoHS regulations

The National Measurement Office (NMO) is the UK's enforcement authority for the Restriction of the Use of Certain Hazardous Substances in Electrical and Electronic Equipment (RoHS) Regulations 2012.

If you are a manufacturer, importer or distributor of EEE, you should be able to show that you took all reasonable precautions, steps and measures to ensure compliance with the RoHS regulations.

In order to ensure the regulations are followed, the NMO:

  • provides support and guidance to businesses
  • carries out product testing
  • monitors compliance
  • carries out inspections
  • takes enforcement actions where necessary.

If enforcement is necessary, the NMO has powers of entry, powers to inspect, seize and detail EEE, can issue warrants and can apply sanctions.

Further information

National Measurement Office - Guidance to RoHS Directive 2011/65/EU

Government guidance notes for RoHS 2

RoHS environmental legislation

This page provides links to the full text of key pieces of environmental legislation relating to the Restriction of the Use of Certain Hazardous Substances in Electrical and Electronic Equipment (RoHS). The websites hosting the legislation may list amendments separately.

If you are setting up an environmental management system (EMS) for your business, you can use this list to start compiling your legal register. Your legal adviser or environmental consultant will be able to tell you if other environmental legislation applies to your specific business.

Environmental Management Systems (EMS) and environmental reports

UK-wide RoHS Legislation

Restriction of the Use of Certain Hazardous Substances in Electrical and Electronic Equipment Regulations 2012 SI 3032. Replaces 2008/37; sets out the restrictions on the use of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment; sets out the prohibitions and obligations that apply to manufacturers, their representatives, importers and distributors.

ROHS Directive 2011/65/EU and amendments, in National Measurements Office’s RoHS Legislation page

Further information

NetRegs environmental legislation

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