Industry leaders representing key segments of the electronics supply chain came together at an IPC workshop in Brussels on June 18 to address industry concerns with the Öko-Institut report on the proposed expansion of RoHS substance restrictions.

Öko-Institut was contracted by the European Union Commission to study the inclusion of additional hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment under the RoHS Directive. In their draft report to the commission, the Öko-Institut recommended the restriction of Tetrabromobisphenol A (TBBPA), the flame retardant used to protect more than 80 percent of printed circuit boards and found to be safe by a comprehensive European Union risk assessment. In addition to TBBPA, hexabromocylcododecanes (HBCDDs), several phthalate plasticizers and all organic compounds containing chlorine and bromine are included in the report as suggested bans.

"IPC is concerned that Öko-Institut’s recommendations are arbitrary and lack a sound scientific basis. Implemented, these recommendations will have a significant negative impact on our members," explained Fern Abrams, director of government relations and environmental policy for the Bannockburn, Ill.-based global trade organization. She noted that IPC held the meeting in Brussels to make sure that all technical issues were considered by the commission when they drafted the RoHS revisions.

Attendees at the meeting included members of the European Commission and the RoHS Technical Advisory Committee from Brussels and the United Kingdom; and representatives from European Space Agency; EU Commission consultant ERA Technology Ltd.; Rockwell Collins; AT&S Austria Technologie & Systemtechnik AG; Philips Healthcare; Henkel Ltd.; BAE Systems Platform Solutions; Lockheed Martin; Aerospace Industries Association of America; American Embassy Brussels; Avantec; Isola GmbH; and EADS.

Working with the meeting attendees, IPC is developing a “supply chain” white paper in response to the proposed restrictions. According to a commission member, a technical response across a large section of the supply chain would be an effective method in communicating industry issues.

A copy of the agenda and the workshop presentations are available