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Proposed RoHS changes could cause admin chaos

Microscope contributor

Indications are emerging that changes to the European Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) directive that place responsibility for ensuring IT equipment meets compliance standards on resellers and distributors could cause administrative chaos, and it is unlikely much non-compliant kit will even be found.

As reported by MicroScope, the draft changes - that have no legal status yet - mean distis or importers will have to physically open each box to inspect it, and resellers will have to ensure manufacturers and distributors have met their obligations. If the dealer suspects kit may not be compliant he will not be allowed to place it on the open market.

One distributor who declined to be named said similar proposals had been drafted before but were thrown out for being unworkable. He hinted it could potentially throw volume distributors into administrative meltdown.

However the original directives have now been in force since 2006 and at the time major vendors such as Cisco, HP and IBM invested heavily in making their kit compliant through the elimination of toxic metals and chemicals such as cadmium and mercury.

The only area where there were concerns was around smaller Asian vendors, but even here many have cleaned up their act.

Barrie Desmond, business development director at distributor VADition, which handles many new vendors, said RoHS was not at the top of his agenda.

“Our engineering team goes through a checklist with new vendors, which includes regulatory compliance, but it’s not been an issue for us,” Desmond said. “Most new vendors shout from the rooftops about the fact that they meet legislation.”

Networks First managing director Peter Titmus welcomed the changes, saying they could force resellers to compete on a level playing field and suggesting increased compliance could be a blow for grey trading.

“We try as hard as we can to comply with the rules and regulations but there are always competitors that bend the rules and buy grey components,” he said.

However, a concerning lack of information about RoHS has also come to light, with some dealers apparently unaware that the directive was a Brussels-mandated scheme in the first place.


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