LONDON Thanks to all the concerned respondents who contributed to our survey on the way Europe's Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) directive may have been implemented and policed during the first few weeks. And are you not a pessimistic bunch?
Maybe, or maybe you are just realistic.
Nearly three quarters of you believed that the introduction of RoHS would be difficult, with 19 percent of respondents suspecting it would not be implemented well or policed at all. Just 27 percent thought everything would go smoothly.
Just in case you have been living on another (maybe completely inert) planet, the directive that came into effect July 1, aims to prevent the use of hazardous chemicals such as lead and cadmium in the production of electrical equipment, and will impact the entire supply chain.
There is no doubt there has been some confusion in introducing such a complex set of rules and potential penalties. But anecdotal evidence suggests things have gone relatively smoothly so far, and that the organizations in different countries charged with enforcing the rules, though taking a tough stance, have encountered few serious issues.
It seems the enforcers have used common sense, especially with the smaller producers and less sophisticated importers who, it seems clear from the run up the deadline, found it challenging to understand the full scope of the restrictions and exemptions.
Help has been available to buyers and product designers, from the enforcement agencies as well as interested parties such as the major component distributors, notably on the tricky subject of exemptions that have caused perhaps the most problems. Several companies and organizations are offering on-line a list of exemptions, including those that have been formally approved or rejected, and referencing devices that are in limbo and awaiting a decision.
Some OEMs have also been proactive, no longer shipping to Europe devices that do not meet the directive. Palm Inc., for instance, withdrew its Treo 650 smartphone.
Palm was one of the first to admit that it had to withdraw new supplies, but a spokesman for the company told EE Times Europe that a successor to the 650 is already in the pipeline and stressed stocks in shops throughout Europe are expected to meet demand for the device till an RoHS compliant version appears later this year.
Apple has also withdrawn a number of products, believed to include the iSight Web camera and versions of the eMac desktop computer, but the latest versions of the iPod, iPod Nano and iPod Shuffle all comply with the regulations, it is claimed.
But our survey respondents may be wiser than anecdotal evidence yet suggests. As with much legislation RoHS is intended to be, to an extent, self-regulating with companies reported to the authorities if they are not complying. The smoothness of the introduction may need a little longer to be judged mirror-like.