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Interview with CEO: Hazardous Substances in IT Products — Human Health and Environmental Risk

Nowadays, more and more electrical and electronic products become available on the market and a lot of them have short life cycles. That is why it is very crucial that such products are manufactured with minimum risk to human health and the environment. Thus, regulations on the Restriction of the Use of Certain Hazardous Substances (RoHS) appeared to limit the amount of six hazardous substances that are commonly used in manufacturing of electrical and electronic equipment (EEE).

In the EAEU, the RoHS regulations came into force only in 2018 and are going to be mandatory soon. In the light of the coming changes on the use of RoHS in the EAEU, we decided to share the opinion of one of the expert service providers — GMA Consult Group. We talked to the CEO of the company — Alex Buel — who kindly agreed to shed light on some of the most frequently asked questions:

1. EAEU TR 037/2016 “On Restriction of the Use of Hazardous Substances in Electrical and Electronic Products” was adopted in 2018 and it will become mandatory in 2020 within the territory of the EAEU. With this regard, the question arises how high, in your opinion, is the market demand for this regulation and how timely is the introduction of RoHS requirements in the EAEU?

The idea of ​​introducing a system of technical regulations in the EAEU countries itself is primarily related to the organization of conformity assessment systems for products and services that are similar or very close to the most modern world analogues. The most developed regional system of technical regulation in the world today is the European Directives and Regulations system. The system of the EAEU Technical Regulations is almost similar to the European Directives and Regulations system. Such harmonization along with the entry of the EAEU countries into mutual recognition of conformity assessment results international organizations (ILAC, IAF, IEC) allows to increase the competitiveness of products manufactured in the EAEU countries and ensure that the products of the EAEU manufacturers are introduced to the world markets with minimum costs for the manufacturer and maximum trust on the consumer’s side. To my mind, the demand of the market is obvious and, speaking of timeliness, the requirements are introduced with a significant delay after the main advanced economies' development. The smaller the gap to requirements adaptation on the EAEU market, the greater the economic players' benefit.

2. The Amendment to 2015/863 (RoHS 3) EU Directive with regard to the list of restricted substances comes into force in the EU on July 22, 2019. As we can see, RoHS requirements in the EAEU are based on the requirements of RoHS 2 EU Directive only. Do you think, there will be changes to EAEU TR 037/2016 taking into account changes in (RoHS 3) EU Directive and how quickly could this happen?

Indeed, EAEU TR 037/2016 will undergo changes following the updates of Directive 2015/863 (RoHS 3). Most likely, the changes will not take long to wait and the draft amendments will be published for public discussion in the near future — most likely by the end of 2019. This approach is primarily in the interests of national manufacturers of the EAEU.

3. In your opinion what benefits will the implementation of mandatory RoHS requirements in the EAEU give to the economic players and particularly the end-users?

So far, requirements on Restriction of the Use of Hazardous Substances in Electrical and Electronic Products have already been adopted in a number of countries, such as the EU, the USA, and China, which are the largest and the most attractive target markets for manufacturers. My belief is that the harmonization of RoHS requirements is not just timely, but vital, first of all, for manufacturers of electrical and electronic products located in the EAEU. As for foreign manufacturers, who already have conformity assessment documents to get access to the main worldwide markets, the enactment of EAEU TR 037/2016 will not raise significant import barriers into the EAEU market, since the procedure for confirming compliance with the requirements of this Technical Regulation requires the adoption of a declaration of conformity by an authorized foreign manufacturer based on the manufacturer’s own evidence under the declarative principle and does not bind the manufacturer to retest the product in EAEU local laboratories.

4. In your opinion, whether the manufacturers, both in the EAEU and abroad, are sufficiently aware of the requirements, rules, and conformity assessment procedures that should be met under the EAEU TR 037/2016?

Today, there is a lot of information in the public domain about the rules and conformity assessment procedures against the EAEU TR 037/2016 requirements. However, there is a number of obstacles for foreign manufacturers in order to confirm the manufactured products meet the requirements of the Regulations. First of all, these obstacles are associated with aberration of the Regulations requirements in terms of the testing procedure by some market players. Thus, some certification bodies in the EAEU countries withhold intentional information about the possibility of adopting declaration of conformity. They insist on carrying out conformity assessment in the form of certification with mandatory retesting procedure in the EAEU local laboratories, regardless of whether or not the manufacturer has documents used by the authorized representative for the purpose of adopting the declaration of conformity and avoiding additional costly tests in the local laboratories. According to the requirements of the EAEU TR 037/2016, the form of conformity assessment procedure is the Declaration of Conformity, but despite this, we could observe a situation when a number of certification bodies in Russia and Belarus continue to mislead manufacturers through the intentional withholding the actual requirements for the conformity assessment procedure in the form of declaration, namely, in case the manufacturer has reasonable grounds, the repeated tests in Russia, Belarus or other EAEU countries are not required. According to the EAEU TR, declaration procedure can be replaced with the certification procedure by the decision of the applicant (or an authorized representative or importer for foreign manufacturer) but doesn’t impose the mandatory requirements to do so. Such tweak on the part of certification bodies is mainly because the certification procedure brings substantial income until manufacturers will ask questions, the certification bodies will make profits… Despite the fact that GMA Consult Group has repeatedly described the actual requirements and procedures in numerous articles, presentations, and webinars, today we continue to receive numerous questions about the actual rules and conformity assessment procedures against EAEU TR 037/2016 requirements from manufacturers and other market players. Below, you can find links with detailed information on RoHS requirements in the EAEU, including the webinar with the detailed step-by-step guide:

- Compliance of products with the RoHS requirements of the EAEU TR 037/2016

- WEBINAR: Requirements of the New Technical Regulations on RoHS in EAEU. Challenges and Solutions

5. And last but not least, what a market player could face if the product doesn’t meet the requirements of the EAEU TR 037/2016?

EAEU administrative codes prescribe a punishment for violation of the conformity assessment procedure against EAEU TR requirements. Thus, in Russia, for example, the violation of the procedure is charged with penalty that rates up to 15 000 USD with or without the confiscation of the imported products. The recent GMA Consult Group webinar on RoHS requirements in the EAEU is sharing a bit more detail on liability issue. Check out the above-mentioned for more information.

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GMA Consult Group provides a full cycle of international type approval and global market access services for the IT, telecom and industrial electrical products in all countries throughout the world. 

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