EUR-Lex Access to European Union law

Back to EUR-Lex homepage

This document is an excerpt from the EUR-Lex website

Restriction on the use of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment



Directive 2011/65/EU — restriction of the use of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment


It strengthens existing rules on the use of hazardous substances, such as lead, mercury and cadmium, in electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) to protect human health and the environment, in particular by enabling environmentally sound recovery and waste treatment of EEE.


The recast legislation updates Directive 2002/95/EC which restricted the use of certain hazardous substances in EEE by, among other things, extending restrictions in the use of hazardous substances to a wider range of EEE.


  • An annex to the directive sets out the categories of EEE that are covered by the legislation. These range from household appliances to information technology (IT) equipment, plus an open catch-all category (relevant from July 2019).
  • The ban now applies to all EEE and to cables and spare parts. A short list of exclusions is given to certain special cases.
  • The ban was introduced gradually for certain products. It takes effect on:
    • 22 July 2014 for monitoring and control instruments and medical devices;
    • 22 July 2016 for in vitro medical devices;
    • 22 July 2017 for industrial monitoring and control instruments; and
    • 22 July 2019 for remaining product groups.


The restrictions do not apply to a range of items such as weapons, space equipment, large-scale stationary industrial tools (for example, printing presses, milling and drilling machines) and fixed installations (for example, electricity generators). Also exempt are photovoltaic panels.

Directive (EU) 2017/2102 amends Directive 2011/65/EU to address a number of issues, to avoid unintended consequences of the legislation because of the open scope introduced in 2011.

It excludes pipe organs and some non-road mobile machinery from its scope.

It also seeks to boost the circular economy by removing the ban on secondary market operations (which involve the repair, replacement of spare parts, refurbishment and reuse, and retrofitting) for EEE that fell outside the scope of the previous Directive 2002/95/EC, but which would not comply with Directive 2011/65/EU.

Reused spare parts, recovered from EEE, can be exempted provided that reuse takes place in auditable closed-loop business-to-business return systems, and that the reuse of spare parts is notified to the consumer.


  • If specific criteria are met, the restrictions do not apply for a temporary period for certain exempted uses, such as the use of lead in solders for electrical and electronic equipment.
  • Two annexes list exemptions from the restrictions. Several exemptions have been added since the publication of the directive and others have expired and no longer apply; the exemption lists are continuously updated in line with technical progress.


  • The directive places an obligation on manufacturers to ensure any EEE that they place on the market has been designed and produced in line with the requirements set out in the legislation.
  • Importers must check that equipment has been approved as meeting the required standards.
  • Distributors must also ensure the standards are met.

Adaptation and review

  • The various annexes, including the list of restricted substances and their tolerated concentration values, are reviewed regularly. They will be updated in line with scientific and technical progress and to take account of risks to human health and the environment.
  • The European Commission launched a review of the directive in 2020 to evaluate it and to adapt it if necessary.


It has applied since 21 July 2011. Directive 2011/65/EU revised and replaced Directive 2002/95/EC (and its subsequent amendments) which had to become law in the EU countries by 2004. The new rules in Directive 2011/65/EU had to become law in the EU countries by 2013.


For more information, see:


Directive 2011/65/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 8 June 2011 on the restriction of the use of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment (recast) (OJ L 174, 1.7.2011, pp. 88-110)

Successive amendments to Directive 2011/65/EU have been incorporated into the original document. This consolidated version is of documentary value only.

last update 03.09.2021