Importance of RoHS Directive Highlighted by £33m Product Withdrawals

Occupational Health & Safety

Figures released by the National Measurement and Regulation Office (NMRO) show that in 2015/2016 up to £33m worth of products were removed from the UK market. In all, 146,182 individual items were scrapped, modified for legal sale or shipped back out of the country in 2015/16. These ranged from a few items of high-tech equipment to 59,000 flashlights worth £6.50 each.

88% of the products removed from the U.K market were found to have contained harmful chemicals banned under the Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) Directive. Directive 2011/65/EU on the restriction of the use of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment aims to improve the safety of electronic products and prevent the release of hazardous substances into the environment. The prohibition on heavy metals and other dangerous chemicals in electrical and electronic equipment has now been extended to a wider range of products including lead, cadmium and polybrominated diphenyl ethers all of which had been found in these products that have been removed from the market.

No civil sanctions or prosecutions have been made for environmental offences policed by the NMRO, or its predecessor the National Measurement Office since 2014, but the volume of product withdrawals amounts to a costly sum, which has had large financial implications for several businesses.

RoHS Compliant?

RoHS Compliant?

Taiwanese-made smart watches accounted for two thirds of the withdrawn products and had a combined value of over £10.5m. They were shipped back to the factory and ordered not to be returned to the EU, but the most high-value items were medical devices: one costing £9,600, another £296,000 and a further type costing twice that much. A total of 39 medical device units were removed from the UK market.

Printing equipment and sewing machine power supplies also accounted for a large percentage of the declined products. 21,500 fabric bobble removers, 3,500 ‘cutting machines’ and some particularly expensive toys were either scrapped outright or resold outside the EU. Their fate is not recorded.

Any business that sells applicable electrical or electronic products, sub-assemblies, or components directly to RoHS countries, or sells to resellers, distributors, or integrators that in turn sell products to these countries, is impacted.

RoHS specifies maximum levels for the following six restricted materials:


Lead (Pb): < 1000 ppm

Mercury (Hg): < 100 ppm

Cadmium (Cd): < 100 ppm

Hexavalent Chromium: (Cr VI) < 1000 ppm

Polybrominated Biphenyls (PBB): < 1000 ppm

Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDE): < 1000 ppm

Bis(2-Ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP): < 1000 ppm

Benzyl butyl phthalate (BBP): < 1000 ppm

Dibutyl phthalate (DBP): < 1000 ppm

Diisobutyl phthalate (DIBP): < 1000 ppm


It is evident from the figures released by NMRO that there is widespread ambiguity when it comes to complying with the RoHS Directive. Pegasus, which is an online legal register, can ensure that your facility is RoHS compliant for 2017 with its fully customised and easy to use format. Visit for further information.



Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) Directive

National Measurement & Regulation Office (NMRO)

Chemicals , Electrical Products , Hazardous Substances , Occupational Health & Safety , Restriction of Hazardous Substances , RoHS Directive
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