From the moment the EU RoHS Directive came into force, market surveillance authorities have been identifying and taking action against various types of inaccurate, misleading or fraudulent substance declarations. Here’s how such declarations impact a product’s RoHS compliance and some of the measures that can be put in place to prevent an eventual noncompliance scenario.

Feigning Ignorance Is Not a Solution

The most often used phrase that manufacturers and importers should avoid, as part of a disclosure, is “to the best of my knowledge”. This seemingly innocent statement is often used to cover up a lack of objective evidence or in the worst case an attempt to cover up a known lack of compliance, a non- conforming chemical contained in the component or supplier material. As a product manufacturer the responsibility for compliance rests clearly with the brand owner and if you accept “to the best of my knowledge” or other such “wiggle words” your company could be the subject of an EU RoHS Enforcement investigation, fines, recall of products, removal of CE Mark and significant damage to your brand image.

This is one of the easiest and most straight forward issues to keep from happening. Do not accept any declarations that contain this phrase or other such disclaimers. Ask yourself this simple question. If a supplier is unable or unwilling to provide evidence of substances contained in their supplied material, component or subassembly or proof that the restricted substances are not present in their supplied items without the use of this phrase, how can they declare compliance? The simple answer is that they can’t and if you accept their declaration as proof of compliance to build your product’s Technical Documentation File, you will not be able to support your product’s claim of compliance.

Keep an Eye Out For Fraudulent Testing Reports and Certifications

SGS is the world’s leading material testing service provider, and scammers sometimes try to take advantage of our global reputation of integrity by fraudulently modifying a legitimate SGS Materials Analysis Report. Such modifications show a direct intent to make a profit by introducing noncompliant materials, components, subassemblies, or finished products into a manufacturer’s supply chain.

The laundering of materials, based upon what looks to a be a legitimate testing report, is being accelerated by legislation and enforcement actions which require reasonable evidence of compliance as specified by EU Directive 2011/65/EU, referred to as RoHS2, and the guidance provided by standard EN 50581. Materials lab testing reports can be compromised in various ways. These are some of the types of fraudulent modifications SGS has identified in the past:

  • The report number was not in the SGS database
  • The report number did not match the sample description
  • The report number was for a different company
  • The date of the report did not match the date shown in the SGS database
  • The testing results and conclusions were changed
  • The date of the report and the individual who signed it did not match
  • The individual who signed the report was not an employee or was no longer employed at the date shown on the report

How to avoid becoming the victim of a fraudulent laboratory reports is a question that is often asked by the industry and there is really no one size fits all answer. The following checklist, created by SGS’s laboratory personnel, can be helpful in identifying and avoiding fraudulent laboratory reports:

  • Check to see if the laboratory report contains a digital signature/ certificate
  • Check the sample description to see if it matches the materials likely to be in the report
  • If the report contains a photograph or photographs check that they match the sample description
  • Check to see if the sample part number and manufacturers part number match
  • Review outward appearance of document for possible unauthorized edits/changes
  • Check issuing laboratory certification and qualification to perform the specified testing
  • Contact issuing laboratory to confirm authenticity of a questionable report
  • Engage the services of a highly recognized independent party materials testing firm such as SGS to help develop and implement a holistic fraud prevention scheme

SGS supports manufacturers and retailers worldwide with the management of hazardous substances in consumer products. Through our global expertise and network of chemical labs, SGS can help you ensure your product’s compliance with relevant hazardous substances requirements on any market around the world.

For more information on SGS hazardous substances services visit SGS ROHS page or contact:

Kenneth Stanvick
Consumer Testing Services Technical Manager
Environmental Compliance Management
SGS North America Inc.
291 Fairfield Ave.
Fairfield, NJ
07004, United States
t: +1 603-305-4103