The European Commission will prohibit cadmium from TVs and displays sold in Europe from October 2019, as part of the Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) Directive. This is subject to ratification by the European Council and Parliament over the next two months. Cadmium in lighting products will be prohibited with immediate effect, although they are not commercially available.
Cadmium is one of six hazardous substances banned from use in Europe in electrical and electronic equipment by the RoHS Directive, which was designed to protect human and environmental health. The RoHS Directive recognises cadmium as the most hazardous heavy metal; ten times more toxic than mercury or lead.
“This is a much-needed decision, which will provide market certainty as to the end date of cadmium use in TVs and displays, with immediate effect for lighting,” said Michael Edelman, CEO of cadmium-free quantum dot firm Nanoco. “The European Commission is putting the health of consumers first and removing deadly cadmium from these household products in an expedited timeframe.”
“Throughout the RoHS evaluation process, Nanoco and other leading companies have advocated against prolonging the use of cadmium – particularly given that safe and highly viable alternatives are already a success in the market and being quickly adopted by leading global manufacturers,” continued Edelman. “With this ruling, the end of cadmium is truly in sight. Responsible display manufacturers developing new products will need to start preparing now for ban in 2019.”
In addition to RoHS, other global standards also protect against cadmium’s dangers. The IEEE 1680 standard limits cadmium to <100 parts per million (ppm), stating further that good environmental practice is <50 ppm, with zero cadmium added deliberately. According to IEEE, “The standards provide clear and consistent performance criteria for the design of electronic products, providing an opportunity to secure market recognition for efforts to reduce the environmental impact of electronic products.”
“Cadmium-based technology has been a non-starter from the beginning,” said Edelman. “This is a failed technology that has been abandoned by leading international display manufacturers and rejected by consumers.”
He added: “Multiple cadmium-free technologies are widely available (including QLED, OLED, Advanced Phosphor, and Enhanced colour Filter) from market leading suppliers such as Samsung, Merck, Dow, and others for the fast growing WCG display market. This competition already ensures that market requirements for high colour performance, energy efficiency, and cost are being effectively met.”