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Status and impacts of RoHS-like regulations - the role of material bans in sustainable development

: Deubzer, O.; Griese, H.; Zangl, S.; Andrae, A.; Reichl, H.

Union of EcoDesigners Japan:
5th International Symposium on Environmentally Conscious Design and Inverse Manufacturing 2007. Proceedings. CD-ROM : December 10 - 13, 2007, Tokyo
Tokyo: MCS Center, 2007
International Symposium on Environmentally Conscious Design and Inverse Manufacturing (EcoDesign) <5, 2007, Tokyo>
Fraunhofer IZM ()

Several regulations ban materials in electronics. The ban of lead in the European RoHS Directive and the lead-free soldering initiatives in Japan have triggered a worldwide shift to lead-free soldering even in sectors which are not in the scope of the RoHS Directive. At the same time, manufacturers continue having problems with the transition to lead-free soldering. The environmental benefits of lead-free soldering scientifically are contentious, but it must be considered a political and societal decision to prioritize the potential adverse impacts from lead over the adverse impacts from the use of substitute materials. The use in particular of noble metals and of hazardous metals in electronics together with the low collection and recovery rates drives the risk of environmental and health impacts. In parallel to the ban of lead in EEE, lead applications with a clear risk and much lower avoidance cost persist, like for instance the use of lead in lead shots for hunting. Future material restrictions and bans should take into consideration the efficiency of risk reductions sanctioning the applications with the highest risks at lowest avoidance cost first. Such an approach can contribute to a sustainable development balancing economical and environmental impacts at societally accepted risk and cost levels.