REACH & RoHS: Definition & Environmental Regulations

Instructor: Robert Supple

Robert holds a BS in Geology and Nursing and has worked and developed curriculum in the H S & E field in industrial and medical settings for over 25 years.

This lesson outlines the criteria necessary for a workplace or business to be considered compliant with the European Union's directives for registration, evaluation, authorization and restriction of chemicals (REACH) and restriction of hazardous substances (RoHS).

Overview of REACH & RoHS Regulations

RoHS (Restriction of Hazardous Substances) and REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals) are two environmental regulations for hazardous material. They apply to companies selling products in the European Union (EU). Markets in parts of the United States as well as Korea and China are also regulated by RoHs and REACH.

RoHS (Restriction of Hazardous Substances)

This regulation controls the use of 6 hazardous materials used in the manufacturing of electronics and electrical equipment (EEE). Importers and distributors of EEE are also regulated by RoHs. These hazardous materials include:

  • Lead
  • Mercury
  • Cadmium
  • Hexavalent chromium
  • Polybrominated biphenyls
  • Polybrominated diphenyl ethers

The amount of these chemicals in any single product, such as plastic, must be equal to or less than 0.1% or 1000 parts per million. The threshold of Cadmium is lower at 0.01% or 100 ppm.

RoHS went into effect on July 1, 2006. Companies complying with RoHS must keep records of all EEE products' compliance. These EEE products must be labeled with the green check icon.


On January 2, 2013, the second version of RoHS expanded the regulation. Additional regulated products included electric cables and spare parts. Documentation requirements added to RoHS were centered around increasing the frequency and thoroughness of documentation. Also, every step of the supply chain was included in the mandatory recordkeeping requirements, and the CE ''Conformité Européene'' marking replaced the green check icon.


Another amendment to RoHS became enforceable on July 22, 2019. This amendment covers the regulation of four additional substances.

  • Butylbenzyl phthalate (BBP)
  • Bis(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP)
  • Dibutyl phthalate (DBP)
  • Di-isobutyl phthalate (DIBP)

Under RoHS regulations, the guidelines require that manufacturers track the amounts of each restricted substance in their end products, keep records, and report as required by government agencies

REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorization, and Restriction of Chemicals)

The European Union and member states of the European Economic Area imposed new regulations for the REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorization, and Restriction of Chemicals) on June 1, 2007. REACH regulates chemicals and their safe use and replaces over 40 existing directives related to chemical management with one regulation. The goal of the law is protection of human health and the environment. All companies manufacturing, importing or distributing products in Europe must comply.

In order to comply, companies must identify and manage the risks of the substances they manufacture and market in the EU, demonstrate to the European Chemicals Agency how the substance can be safely used, and communicate risk management measures to the end users.

REACH is very broad in scope, applies to all chemical substances and is not limited to the electronics industry. This includes chemicals used in industrial processes, cleaning products, paints, clothes, furniture and electrical appliances.

Responsibility for compliance falls on every entity in the supply chain, from the manufacturer to the industrial or professional end user.

Lesson Summary

RoHS controls the use of 10 hazardous materials in the manufacturing of electronics and electrical equipment (EEE). Importers and distributors of EEE are also regulated by RoHs.

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