The Directive 2011/65/EU on the restriction of the use of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment provides “that EEE placed on the market, including cables and spare parts for its repair, its reuse, updating of its functionalities or upgrading of its capacity, does not contain the substances listed in Annex II” (i.e. lead, mercury, cadmium, hexavalent chromium, polybrominated biphenyls, polybrominated diphenyl ethers and starting July 2019 bis(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate, butyl benzyl phthalate, dibutyl phthalate and diisobutyl phthalate). Article 5(1)(a) provides a basis for excluding certain applications from these provisions through the inclusion of materials and components of EEE for specific applications in the lists in Annexes III and IV. This article further specifies the criteria on which such exemptions can be justified: in cases where the environmental and health protection afforded by Regulation 1907/2006/EC (REACH) is not weakened, exemptions can be justified in cases where at least one of the following criteria is fulfilled:

  1. their elimination or substitution via design changes or materials and components which do not require any of the materials or substances listed in Annex II is scientifically or technically impracticable;
  2. the reliability of substitutes is not ensured; and
  3. the total negative environmental, health and consumer safety impacts caused by substitution are likely to outweigh the total environmental, health and consumer safety benefits thereof.

Furthermore, the availability of substitutes, the socio-economic impacts of substitution, any potential adverse impacts on innovation and life-cycle thinking information can also be considered to determine the duration of exemptions.

Article 5(2) of the RoHS Directive stipulates that exemptions listed in Annex III and Annex IV shall have an expiration date. Where a specific date is not specified, this article lists provisions to clarify the validity. Article 5(3) requires stakeholders to submit applications for granting, renewing or revoking exemptions to the European Commission. Such applications provide the basis for the Commission to initiate evaluations of the exemptions listed in the annexes (or evaluations of requests for new exemptions).

All information regarding the previous evaluations is available here.