Indium Blog

Missing the Point About WEEE and RoHS


My Indium colleague Jim Slattery, pointed out an interesting article in Electronic Design. After the article, some people sent in responses. A typical one follows:

As a European engineer I am appalled by the lack of judgement made by Brussels - tin whiskers have already caused sufficient damage/costly failures to electronic systems. Isn't it ridiculous that millions of tons of pure lead pipes exist in the water tables under places like London and Paris with no detrimental effects. Lead in solder does not corrode like pure lead and where is the evidence that solder alloys in land-filled sites is corroding and causing lead to be present in run-off water?

Our friend misses the main point of RoHS as did I and others. The main purpose of RoHS is to make recycling, easier, cheaper and safer. With WEEE, recycling will sky rocket. The EU wants recycling to be a safe and easy task. Although it is possible to safely recycle lead, Hg, Cd, etc. it is not cheap and requires special facilities. So RoHS enables easier WEEE recycling.

I never understood this point until a few months ago.

RE tin whiskers, I will save that discussion for another day, but remember Motorola has 5 years of field data on tens of millions of lead-free cell phones with equal or better reliability as compared to leaded assembled cell phones.


Dr. Ron