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REACH vs RoHS – What are the Differences and Similarities between these Directives

There are rules and regulations that guide the manufacturing industry. The REACH or RoHS directives are popularly seen on various documentations. Some people who aren’t familiar with these directives would have wondered what they are all about. Well, the RoHS and REACH directives are both established by the European Union. However, they cover different aspects of manufacturing.

Most people always use these two directives interchangeably. That is why it is important to understand the difference between the two. We are discussing REACH vs RoHS in this article.

What is REACH?

The European Union (EU) established  a regulation known as REACH. REACH is an acronym that stands for the registration, evaluation, authorization and restriction of chemicals. This regulation was introduced in 2006 and implemented in 2007. It regulates the utilization of chemicals in manufacturing and as well addresses their possible effects on humans and their environment.

This directive replaced some European directives and regulations after it was implemented. The ECHA (European Chemical Agency) monitors the REACH directive. This body manages data submission and offers assistance and guidance to industry. ECHA evaluates companies’ registrations for compliance and the member states of EU checks selected substances to state their concerns for the protection of human health.

REACH aims to offer protection to humans and their environment against the use of chemicals. Also, it enables the movement of substances on the European Union Market. If the risks associated with some substances are unmanageable, authorities can ban such substances. Also, they can restrict the use of these substances.

The scope of this directive is very wide since it is applicable to all chemical substances on the market or utilized within the EU community. However, REACH exempts some substances. There are complete exemptions like non-isolated intermediates, waste, radioactive substances, non-isolated intermediates, and transport of substances.

Companies need to check their parts and products for any substances restricted by REACH. Also, these companies need to get authorization to use substances in the Authorization list.

REACH as an Acronym – What does it Stand for?

REACH manufacturing Control
REACH manufacturing Control

The R in Reach stands for registration. When we talk about registration, this means that companies must provide details about the use of chemicals in their production. This registration is ideal for companies that make use of substances listed by REACH in significant quantities. Also, these companies need to specify the possible risks of the substances and how to prevent them.

E for Evaluation- Manufacturers must provide accurate information. A company can only use or import registered chemicals if there is a dossier with relevant information. The EU Member states and ECHA evaluate the dossier. Also, they check the accuracy of the data in the dossier to confirm the safety of a substance to humans and their environment. The evaluation process involves analyzing the testing recommendations and evaluating the compliance of the dossier.

A for Authorization- ECHA determines SVHCs (substances of very high concern) and looks for ways to substitute these substances with less dangerous ones. There is a list that comprises all SVHCs that are considered for restriction. Chemicals that are carcinogenic, toxic for reproduction, bioaccumulative, and mutagenic are harmful.

 A business needs to fulfill some obligations after a chemical has been declared dangerous. ECHA must publish an Authorization list that regulates the utilization of SVHCs. The substances in the Candidate list must be reviewed periodically.

Restriction of chemicals

Chemicals that pose immediate danger to humans and their environment are restricted after ECHA has carefully considered them. ECHA may ban the production or import of such chemical substances or adopt some measures to reduce their harm. There can be restrictions on a mixture of chemicals or individual substances. Substances which are used as on-site intermediate or serve scientific purposes are exempted from REACH restrictions.

How does REACH Impact Companies?

The REACH directive isn’t only meant for chemicals used in industrial processes. It is applicable to chemicals used in our daily lives. For example, it applies to chemicals used in cleaning products, furniture, clothes, and paints. Companies must manage the risks associated with the substances they produce and market in the EU.

Also, these companies must offer a clear explanation of how to use the substance safely. Users must be educated on risk management measures. In some cases, less dangerous substances replace the most hazardous substances.  REACH has a great impact on various companies. Its impact across various sectors are evident.

Manufacturers who produce chemicals for use in a  product or to supply to other entities are accountable to REACH. Also, importers that get their products from companies outside the EU are accountable to REACH. A good number of companies make use of chemicals in their products. Some don’t even realize it. So, it is important to check if these chemicals can be properly handled in your industrial activity.

Note that companies that are not under the EU are not bound by REACH. REACH is applicable to companies that are within the EU.

What is RoHS?

RoHS is the Restriction of Hazardous Substances. It is an EU directive enforced by the National Measurements Office. It focuses on the restriction of some harmful substances while manufacturing different electronics and electrical equipment. The major hazardous materials restricted by RoHS include cadmium, Lead, Hexavalent chromium, Mercury, Polybrominated biphenyls, and polybrominated diphenyl ether, Diisobutyl  phthalate, Bis(2-Ethylhexyl) phthalate, Dibutyl phthalate, and Benzyl butyl phthalate

The European Union introduced this directive in 2003 and since then it has affected businesses. The substances prohibited by RoHS are unsafe for the environment. These substances have a negative impact on human health. Presently, RoHS directives restrict 10 harmful substances.

RoHS was established to minimize the environmental and health impact of electronics products. The main purpose of RoHS is to ensure safety at every phase of electronics manufacturing. Safety is as well important in the lifecycle of an electronic device. Despite the RoHS directives, some large-scale distributors still make use of some non-RoHS parts.

The reason for this is that RoHS can be inconvenient and expensive. In the EU, the use of non-RoHS parts is prohibited. Electronic manufacturers must adhere to the RoHS compliance. All RoHS compliant products must have the CE mark before they can be sold at the market.

Companies that comply with the RoHS directive must produce a technical file that includes information about the particular product. Also, this file must be kept for 10 years.

What is the Impact of RoHS in Our Daily Lives?

One way or the other, RoHS has a big impact on our daily lives. This directive was created to ensure human safety. Although some people believe some of these harmful substances don’t have an immediate threat, the long term exposure to these substances can threaten one’s health.

Exposure to harmful substances is when your body has contact with the particular chemical. All electronics products manufactured and distributed within the EU must have full compliance to RoHS. A company that refuses to distribute compliant products will have to face the consequence. Such a company will be fined and even prosecuted.

However, there are some issues that arise as regards RoHS compliance. For manufacturing businesses, RoHS can be very costly.  A company must make continual effort to adhere to this compliance. RoHS has helped to improve the well-being of both manufacturers and consumers. Even the environment benefits from the RoHS directive.

Chemicals were used in manufacturing due to their properties. For instance, the luminescence of radium. The harmful impact of such a chemical was not understood since it was just introduced in the production process. Therefore, this has caused humans much exposure to harmful substances.

The RoHS directive affects importers, manufacturers, and even distributors. Third party testing services test the products of an organization to determine the amount of restricted material used.

Which Equipment Does the RoHS Directive Apply to?


RoHS does not allow the utilization of six harmful and hazardous substances in any electrical equipment. 1000 ppm or 0.1% is the maximum level to be used in these substances. However, the Delegated Directive 2015/863 included four plasticizers to the list of harmful substances. These include Diisobutyl phthalate DIBP, Bis(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate DEHP, Dibutyl phthalate DBP, and Butyl benzyl phthalate BBP.

This directive prohibits the use of more than 0.1 percent of these materials by weight. Companies can only use less than or 0.1 percent of each of these substances. RoHS covers equipment like:

  • Consumer equipment
  • Small household appliances
  • Automatic dispensers
  • Toys and sport equipment
  • Lighting equipment
  • Large household appliances
  • Semiconductor devices
  • Electrical and electronic tools
  • IT & Telecommunications equipment
  • Medical devices

What is the Difference Between REACH Vs RoHS?

REACH and RoHS are both regulations that are applicable to businesses that operate directly or indirectly within countries in the EU. These regulations differ in terms of the scope they cover. Let’s look at REACH Vs RoHS. REACH applies to products and parts distributed and manufactured in the EU, although there are some exemptions. On the other hand, RoHS does not allow the utilization of some harmful substances during the manufacturing of electronic and electrical equipment.

The European Chemical Agency (ECHA) is in charge of REACH while the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union enforces guidelines and regulations concerning RoHS. Companies declare RoHS compliance through the CE marking. This marking indicates that a company provided a technical file which comprises important details about the product. Also, this document specifies the steps a company has taken to comply with the RoHS directive.

For REACH, companies that produce and distribute over one ton of substances each year need to get authorization or permission for the use of Substances of Very High Concern (SVHCs). This directive restricts companies or businesses from making use of substances that are on the restricted list.

Failure to adhere to the RoHS or REACH directives leads to payment of fines. Such companies can even be prosecuted. In the long run, this will result in reputational damage. Non-compliance with REACH usually attracts incarceration or fines. This can only be avoided if civil law provides a remediation route. In such scenarios, there is a need to investigate cases to know if it is necessary to prosecute such companies.

For RoHS, the fines and penalties charged vary by country. This is because member states of the EU incorporate RoHS according to their legislative framework. 

What are the Similarities of REACH vs RoHS

REACH and RoHS are directives manufacturers in the EU, China, Korea, and some parts of Canada need to sell their products. These two directives see to the safety of humans and their environment. Also, they interact in a very complex way. A RoHS compliant product may not adhere to the REACH directive and vice versa.

However, REACH vs RoHS are directives that are applicable to companies in the European Union. These two directives have helped to improve environmental safety of several products.

Impacts of Non-RoHS Parts

PCB PCBA rohs compliant
PCB PCBA rohs compliant

Non-RoHS parts have negative impacts on customers and even manufacturers. In the process of shipping and packaging these parts, employees are at risk. They get exposed to these substances. Also, before the shipping and packaging process, the manufacturing process would have exposed workers to these substances.

However, the non-RoHS part continues to have a negative impact even when it is no longer in use. These parts are trashed out when they are broken or outdated. Therefore, they end up in landfill or a recycling center. The substances in this part can pollute the ground. Substances like mercury and lead don’t degrade even after a long time. Therefore, these substances end up running through the ground.

They end up in places like underground water reserves. This can further cause pollution to food sources and wildlife. For instance, some fishes contain an amount of lead and mercury. The presence of such harmful substances is a result of dumping waste products in oceans where fishes and other aquatic animals absorb these hazardous substances.


With the increasing development of technology, manufacturers are using harmful substances in the production of many items. These items include electronic or electrical equipment, paint, home appliances, cleaning products and more. Therefore, there is a need to restrict the use of these substances in the products we use.

The REACH and RoHS directives were introduced and adopted to restrict the use of harmful materials and chemical substances in products. These two directives aim at ensuring the safety of products for human health and their environment.




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