from Graham Margetson, director, Foresite Systems

Sir; I would like to draw attention to an environmental issue of concern to the retail sector. The Reduction of Hazardous Substances regulation makes the use of certain goods, materials and substances illegal in the manufacture of electronics.
It comes into force in 2006, at the same time as the European Union’s Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment directive which places the responsibility for dealing with end-of-life products upon producers themselves.
The real issue here for retailers is whether the same degree of attention is being given to RoHS as it is to WEEE.
RoHS could be a complete showstopper for electronics manufacturers - and in turn retailers. It has the ability to prevent goods from being sold come 2006 should they not be in compliance.
For the supermarkets, if a supplier’s product is not in compliance, those goods cannot be marketed and retailers will have to look elsewhere for
sources of product (and revenue) from those who have got their regulatory act together.
In the United States, there is a marked response to RoHS from manufacturing companies who are exporting to the EU.
So what is the solution, as we head towards that looming 2006 date? There is little time left for engineering and development teams to respond to the directive. If they are not already, supermarkets and retailers need to be in active communication with suppliers, to ascertain what measures are being taken to be in compliance.
Dialogue now might just save some red faces (and empty shelves!) in less than 24 months.