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RoHS, or the Restriction of Hazardous Substances directive, is a European initiative (directive 2002/95/EC to be exact) to make all electronics lead-free by the year 2006 (July 1 to be exact.) Specifically, the initiative is intended to eliminate lead in Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE), as they really don't care if lead is in your electronics, they care that you dump those electronics into the environment when you dispose of your gear.

This directive is having a major impact here in the USA, as our electronic manufacturers have to make their parts lead-free in order to sell them to European manufacturers. There is a 10-year extension available to manufacturers of critical infrastructure such as telecom and utility electronics, but most will not invoke it as they will lose the initiative over their competition in the intervening years.

There are various lead-free initiatives slowly creeping through the US, but as eliminating toxic materials will cost money, there is little enthusiasm for it. The work is being done mostly by industry organizations and forward-looking companies who realize that US industry must become compliant or be locked out of the world electronic market as more countries adopt lead-free laws.

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