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European Directives on Manufacturing Reach U.S.

May 15, 2006
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EUROPE - Legislative action in Europe that is being adopted in California and other states is changing the way many manufacturers are making equipment. In the HVACR sector, the changes are most directly affecting the production of refrigerators and freezers.

The legislation in question is called Restriction of the use of certain Hazardous Substances (RoHS) and it has been adopted by the European Union. It bans, in Europe, "the marketing after July 1, 2006 of any electrical or electronic equipment that contains lead, cadmium, mercury, hexavalent chromium, or the flame retardants polybrominated biphenyl (PBB) and polybrominated dypheny ether (PBDE)."

"Already California has passed legislation (effective Jan. 1, 2007) paralleling RoHS directives of the European Union. Other states including New Jersey, Wisconsin, and Washington have either pending or are enacting legislation along the same lines," according to a statement from Danfoss. "If history is consistent with the future, federal legislation will follow."

The statement said the directive affects "product technology starting with design, involving manufacturing, and ending with quality assurance practices." It said manufacturers have been responding and those responding "have instituted lead-free soldering, avoid use of cadmium in plating and in other applications, and found acceptable substitutes for materials containing hexavalent chromium."

It was noted that refrigerators and freezers fall within the directives because they are "finished products with direct function." At the same time, refrigeration racks, display equipment, and residential air conditioning equipment are currently exempt from the regulations because they are considered just "part of a fixed installation."

The Danfoss statement said the company's manufacturing processes have embraced the directives and, in fact, has extended the directives to products not covered by the directives.

Another aspect of European developments starting to be embraced in the United States relates to a directive dealing with Waste Electrical and Electronics Equipment (WEEE) that requires manufacturers to work with local government agencies to ensure that electrical and electronic waste is disposed of "in an environmentally considerate manner." WEEE deals with the disposal of a product or failed components of a product replaced during service.

For more information, www.eu.int/comm/environment/waste/weee_index.htm.

Publication date: 05/15/2006

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