Resource Efficiency and Legislation on Chemicals

Introduction

The construction machinery sector is highly impacted by the European chemical legislation. In the last decade an increase in requirements regarding the control and use of hazardous substances has demanded big efforts from machine manufactures in terms of reporting and materials use.

Circular economy principles are well integrated in the sector. The high investment value of the machines promotes and underpins a long-life utilisation of the equipment, with high durability and reparability standards. 

Circular economy

The circular economy implies reducing waste to a minimum as well as re-using, repairing, refurbishing and recycling existing materials and products. What used to be considered as 'waste' can be turned into a valuable resource.

In December 2015 the European Commission presented an action plan for the circular economy, as well as four legislative proposals amending the following legal acts: Waste Framework Directive; Landfilling Directive; Packaging Waste Directive; Directives on end-of-life vehicles, on batteries and accumulators and waste batteries and accumulators, and on waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE).

Considering that the construction equipment are high value and long-life capital goods, main circular economy principles have been integrated naturally in the sector. Construction machinery is characterised by a high level of reparability, re-use and remanufacturing.

REACH

Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) is a European Union regulation dated 18 December 2006. REACH addresses the production and use of chemical substances, and their potential impacts on both human health and the environment.

On 10 September 2015, a press release the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) announced that the notification process of an Substance of Very High Concern (SVHC) in an article under the REACH Regulation applies to ‘each article in an entire article’ (each component in an entire article) when the concentration of an SVHC is more than 0.1%. Therefore, the checking and reporting in a given construction machine should be done component by component, with the high associated cost.

RoHS & WEEE

EU legislation restricting the use of hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment (RoHS Directive) and promoting the collection and recycling of such equipment (WEEE Directive) has been in force since February 2003. The RoHS Directive 2011/65/EU (RoHS II) entered into force on 21 July 2011 and the WEEE Directive 2012/19/EU (WEEE II) entered into force on 13 August 2012.

Construction equipment generally benefits from scope exclusions defined in both directives. Excluded are: non-road mobile machinery (NRMM), large-scale stationary industrial tools (LSSIT), large-scale fixed installations and equipment specifically designed for these excluded products.  The definition, however, of NRMM in both directives limits the exclusion to machinery with an on-board power source. NRMM without its own power source (e.g. cable powered) would fall into the scope. This is not justified, particularly as models exist with two different power sources – one model with a combustion engine, the other with cable – in order to offer the machine for different applications. So, one model would be out of scope, the other would be in.

The Oeko Institut (2015) highlighted the inconsistencies between the definitions of NRMM in RoHSII and in 97/68/EC (engines emissions) Directives and alerted that the wording of Article 3(28) RoHSII creates cases in which similar equipment will be regulated differently.

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CECE Position Paper - RoHS II and WEEE II