Restrictions on hazardous materials will place extra burden on suppliers

2 September 2011

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3 September 2011 | Angeline Albert

Updated EU legislation on hazardous materials could create rising manufacturing costs and limit businesses’ choice of supplier, a buyer claims.

According to Martin Greenwood, group purchasing manager at manufacturer TR Fastenings, stricter rules on the process of proving compliance with the rules on which materials which can be used in products could create further costs for suppliers who will need more documentation to prove they can comply.

As the legislation has only just been adopted, and will come into force in 2013, it will be a while until the real impact on vendors becomes clear.

The EU introduced the Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) Directive in 2006 that prohibited the use of certain elements and chemicals in electronic equipment. The EU now plans to extend this to any product with an electronic function under ‘RoHS 2’. This will also require buyers to ensure every component does not use the banned materials.

Greenwood uses the example of an electronic toy bunny. “Not only will documentation for the production processes that went into the electric motor have to be produced, but also the bit of fluff that makes up the bunny,” he said.

The new rules are expected to affect the supply base of far more companies than the original directive. “RoHS 2’s arrival is set to affect a wide range of other sectors, potentially adding to manufacturing costs and limiting supplier choice,” said Greenwood.

While all of TR Fastenings’ suppliers comply with the current directive, there is work to be done to support vendors to ensure they meet the new regulations. As the firm sells thousands of products, such as screws, to electronics firms such as washing machine makers, Greenwood is compiling an approved supplier list and a compliance template as guidance for the company’s existing supply base.

“We are producing a guidance package for suppliers letting them know what our customers are expecting to ensure they deliver the documentation which we will then assess,” he said.

The EU says it is introducing tougher rules because of the failure of many firms to adhere to the current legislation.

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