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Electrical products and sustainability

“Sustainability is a principle of action for the use of resources, in which the long-term satisfaction of needs is ensured by preserving the natural regenerative capacity of the systems involved - especially living organisms and ecosystems”.


Stephanie Werner
Nachhaltigkeit und Verantwortung - Label
stockpics /

The topic of sustainability is current and omnipresent. Everyone has heard of sustainability before, especially in connection with the topic of climate protection. Climate protection is one of the most important goals worldwide and one of the greatest global challenges of the 21st century. For example, the European climate law provides for greenhouse gas neutrality by 2050 as a legally binding goal. This means that no CO2 may be produced in the production of new electrical appliances for example. This in turn poses great challenges for the economy and companies, but also offers manufacturers an excellent opportunity to offer climate-friendly products and services.

But what exactly does sustainability mean with regard to electrical technology or electrical appliances?

The climate protection target stipulates that manufacturers of electrical products should produce their products as sustainably and climate-neutrally as possible. For example, they should manufacture long-lasting products that contain no harmful substances, the products should be resource-conserving or made from recycled raw materials, be easily recycled again and use as little energy as possible. Another important aspect is the raw materials used in the devices or the materials and ingredients used.

Consumers can conclude from this that they should pay attention to the sustainability of an electrical product when buying it. Sustainability is therefore an important criterion for both manufacturers of electrical products and consumers. So it is also important to us.

The VDE Institute is your reliable partner for sustainability

In addition to product safety, we also attach great importance to the sustainability of electrical appliances. We offer a wide range of tests and services in the field of sustainability - from chemical tests for material analysis, checking recyclability and reparabilit, to energy efficiency and ecodesign requirements and the documentation of all measurement results for further use. Our test results and our certifications can support you in your marketing activities and in pursuing your company strategy with regard to environmentally friendly products. This is because VDE-tested products stand for safety and open markets.

Our chemical tests

The VDE Institute assists in identifying restricted substances

Testing according to the RoHS directive 2011/65/EC

The RoHS directive 2011/65/EC on restricting certain hazardous substances (Restriction of Hazardous Substance) requires a declaration of conformity and CE mark. We support you in handling the RoHS conformity evaluation process.

The VDE Institute assists in identifying restricted substances

The RoHS directive 2011/65/EC on restricting certain hazardous substances (Restriction of Hazardous Substance) requires a declaration of conformity and CE mark. We support you in handling the RoHS conformity evaluation process.

The conformity evaluation process is the responsibility of the manufacturer and includes the creation of the required technical documentation along with internal production control that complies with Module A of Resolution 768/2008 of the European Parliament and the Council on a common regulatory framework for the marketing of products.

The following products are affected by the restrictions:

· Machines
· Lighting products
· Electric tools
· Entertainment technology, information and telecommunications technology devices
· Household appliances
· Industrial and non-industrial monitoring and control systems
· Medical devices
· Toys, leisure and sports equipment

Since July 2019, the directive’s requirements have applied to nearly every electronic device.

The restricted substances include

· Lead and lead compounds
· Cadmium and cadmium compounds
· Mercury and mercury compounds
· Hexavalent chrome
· Two types of brominated flame retardants (PBB and PBDE)

Starting in 2019, short-chained phthalates DEHP, BBP, DBP and DIBP have been included in the RohS directive.

Assessing products and processes in the supply chain

Analytical processes provide information on whether there are substances that are prohibited by law. In conjunction with manufacturer declarations and quality assurance agreements, these test certificates within the supply chain serve to verify a device’s RoHS compliance.

Analysis on homogeneous tools includes low-cost and prompt testing for the presence of the regulated substance via an overview method (screening). In case of a positive result, its exact contents are verified using a specific process.

We offer you an integrated and reliable assessment of RoHS conformity as part of product testing and certification. This helps immensely in achieving legal certainty. To do so, use the following options:

· Assess the manufacturer’s documentation (Level 1)
· Verify the documents that certify RoHS compliance in the supply chain (such as manufacturer declarations, quality assurance agreements, analytical results, general terms and conditions) and create a final declaration of compliance.

Product testing/analysis (Level 2)
· Analysis on components and devices and create a RoHS confirmation of conformity for your product.

Product testing/analysis with conformity monitoring (Level 3)
· Analysis on components and devices with yearly conformity monitoring and the issuance of a RoHS certificate for your product, including use of the VDE RoHS label.

Appraisal according to the IECQ process (Hazardous Substance Process Management)
We appraise the management processes for RoHS compliance as per IECQ regulations and, upon the fulfillment of conditions, confirm that the company in question has developed and implemented a process management system for avoiding hazardous substances for the products it manufactures and/or markets.

The VDE online database improves your market presence

The products that we certify as RoHS-compliant are published on our website at Manufacturers, retailers and buyers regard RoHS compliance as an integral part of selecting a product. Therefore, you can use our offering on RoHS evaluation of products and their entry into the VDE Institute’s information platform website, which is well-known in the field of electrical engineering.

Our laboratory is one of the handful in the world that is accredited according to DIN EN ISO/IEC 17025 regarding global RoHS test standard IEC 62321 and has played a crucial role in standardizing this IEC test procedure. As such, the VDE environmental laboratory is an important institution for chemical studies worldwide, including the VDE environmental laboratory in China (Foshan).

China RoHS

An expansion of the China RoHS has been taking place since July of 2016. It applies to all EEP (electrical & electronic products). This definition of the product scope complies with EU RoHS (DC < 1500V & AC < 1000V). The parts of a product that contains the 6 RoHS substances in excess of the threshold value in homogeneous material must be marked with an X in the material documentation and the other with an O. Devices that do not contain any substances must be marked with a green “e”. If substances are present, the products must be labeled with the “environmental protection use period” product life cycle, the date of manufacture, and the material details in the product documentation.

The VDE Institute test products for REACH substance prohibitions

Testing according to the European Chemicals Regulation REACH

The European chemicals legislation, REACH (1907/2006/EC), governs the registration, evaluation, authorization and restriction of chemicals. We support you in the determination of the substances on the candidate list SVHC and prepare a detailed test report for you.

The VDE Institute test products for REACH substance prohibitions

The European chemicals legislation, REACH (1907/2006/EC), governs the registration, evaluation, authorization and restriction of chemicals. We support you in the determination of the substances on the candidate list SVHC and prepare a detailed test report for you.

In § 33, the directive contains a candidate list of substances of very high concern or SVHC. It is managed and updated by the EU. Any supplier’s product that contains a candidate list substance in a concentration greater than 0.1 percent (w/w) by weight must provide the customer with information about the product, e.g. the name of the SVHC substance.

According to the ECJ’s ruling, the individual products that make up the item must be separately evaluated. Each “item” (e.g. electronic product) consists of several components, which are also deemed an item. If the components contain more than 0.1% of a SVHC substance, it must be reported in the entire item. If the total amount of a SVHC substance exceeds one ton per year, the ECHA (European Chemicals Agency) must be informed.

The VDE Institute assists manufacturers and importers in determining the substances from the SVHC candidate list and creates a detailed study report. You are provided with the information within a short period of time, and with the usual premium quality, since the studies are conducted using the products alone, without the aid of additional information, such as product-specific documentation or information from suppliers.

Substance prohibitions according to REACH, Annex XVII

Substance prohibitions on 104 substances; such as nickel in jewelry, PAK or phthalate; were adopted from the former 76/769/EU directive.
As an extension to this, the EU introduced a threshold value for carcinogenic PAK, 1 mg/kg for consumer products, and 0.5 mg/kg for toys. Proven compliance with the requirements is an integral part of the VDE mark. As such, you can sell your product to the best of your knowledge, and your customers can safely use it.

The following substances are part of the carcinogenic PAK family:

· Benzo[a]pyrene
· Benzo[e]pyrene
· Benzo[a]anthracene
· Chrysene
· Benzo[b]fluoranthene
· Benzo[j]fluoranthene
· Benzo[k]fluoranthene
· Dibenzo[a,h]anthracene

Substances requiring approval according to REACH, Annex XIV

Other than in approved, exceptional cases, substances that are listed in Annex XIV of REACH may no longer be used for production in Europe.

These include, for instance, the following substances:

· 1,2-Dichloroethan
· HBCD (Hexabromocyclododecane)
· Bis(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP)
· Benzyl butyl phthalate (BBP)
· Dibutyl phthalate (DBP)

Receive the conformity confirmation of the RoHS requirement with the VDE Institute

Material analysis and material declaration

We carry out our material analysis and declaration according to customer-specific substance and material lists as well as on the basis of legal requirements. This allows us to provide you with valuable material data for the life cycle assessment and recyclability evaluation of your product.

Receive the conformity confirmation of the RoHS requirement with the VDE Institute

We carry out our material analysis and declaration according to customer-specific substance and material lists as well as on the basis of legal requirements. This allows us to provide you with valuable material data for the life cycle assessment and recyclability evaluation of your product.

In our ultramodern chemical laboratory we have the possibility to perform extensive material analyses for you. With the help of our chemical analysis we can provide you with valuable material data for the life cycle assessment and recyclability evaluation of your product. You can then use this data to create information on material composition, for example.

We carry out our material declarations at the level of homogeneous materials or at product level. We document the results according to IPC175X - in machine readable form - according to your individual requirements. Customer-specific requirements, such as substance and material lists along with legal foundations, are the basis for the tests.

We provide you with information on full product composition with regard to your requirements in a short time and with premium quality. But we do not need any preliminary information to do so – a product provided to the VDE Institute is sufficient. This product information will allow you to obtain the qualification for market readiness. Furthermore, you can use the results during supplier evaluations and draw conclusions about their quality. We can evaluate your entire production process and even incorporate the management system.

Verification of recyclability and reparability

We check the recyclability and reparability of your electrical products.

The focus is on the evaluation and calculation of the recyclability of products in relation to the requirements of the WEEE Directive and EPEAT.

EPEAT is both an environmental label and a platform for registering sustainable electrical products - an initiative of the Green Electronics Council (GEC).

Our tests provide information on your product’s recyclability. In this manner, we document compliance with product disassembly requirements to meet certain recycling quotas. Furthermore, we test mandatory disassembly steps on your product for the removal of critical materials. At the same time, evaluating the individual products provides information on the entire product category’s recyclability.

Our services:

· Evaluating your product’s recyclability at the level of recycling-friendly units as per EN45555:2019-11
· Checking the plastic part’s mark as per ISO 11469:2000
· Calculating the product’s recyclability and evaluating it according to the guidelines of the WEEE Directive (2012/19/EU) for optimized, minimal and regulatory disassembly
· Calculating recyclability according to EPEAT

In terms of reparability, we test products according to the following standards:

· EN45554:2020-02 (General procedures for assessing the repair, reusability and upgradeability of energy-related products)

With regard to recyclability, we test products according to the following standards:

· EN45555:2019-11 (General method for assessing the recyclability and recoverability of energy-related products)

Our documentation provides you with additional information on how you can improve your product’s structure with respect to ErP Directive 2009/125/EC.

Energy consumption measurements

Grüne Energie
lassedesignen /

For manufacturers, energy-saving measures result in economic advantages and for consumers, energy-efficient products are an important purchasing criterion.
The VDE Institute has years of expertise in measuring energy efficiency and in labelling energy consumption.
Our measurement results provide information about energy saving potentials and serve as proof of compliance with legal requirements for eco-design, energy efficiency and environmental protection.

On March 1, 2021, the European Union will update the appearance and requirements for the energy efficiency label. The experts at the VDE Institute support manufacturers in measuring energy consumption.

Learn more about our energy consumption measurements

Life cycle assessment of electrical products

CO2- ecological balance /

Sustainability of electrical products is significantly important, in addition to reducing and preventing pollutants. Furthermore, the energy consumption, the choice of materials during product design and the manufacturing and recycling processes are crucial for a product’s CO2 emissions during its life cycle.

With the VDE Testing and Certification Institute, you have a trustworthy, reliable and experienced partner at your side, with which you can put your product on a safe and successful course with regard to sustainability as well.

At the same time, we can create product-specific CO2 balances. The report is created according to PAS2050 and ISO 14040. The foundation for it is Directive 2009/125/EC “Establishing a framework for the setting of ecodesign requirements for energy-related products” (Ecodesign Directive).

We evaluate all phases of the product levels: manufacturing, transport, use and recycling. This provides you with approaches for improving the product structure according to ecodesign guidelines. Future product generations can be improved through comparisons of many different product concepts. Furthermore, this comprehensive approach allows for a comparison of many different product locations, packages and transport options.

EPEAT - Global register for environmentally friendly and sustainable electronic products


EPEAT ( is a global register for environmentally friendly and sustainable electrical products.

It is based on standards developed by the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers).

With its many years of experience in the fields of chemical material composition testing and energy efficiency measurement, the VDE Institute is your experienced partner on the way to EPEAT registration.

The following devices can be registered with EPEAT:

· PCs, monitors, laptops (IEEE 1680.1)
· Imaging devices such as printers and copiers (IEEE 1680.2)
· TV (IEEE 1680.3)
· Server (NSF/ANSI 426)
· Mobile telephone (UL110)
· PV module (NSF/ANSI 457)

The registered devices can be additionally marked according to these three evaluation categories:

· Bronze EPEAT designation: All necessary criteria are fulfilled
· Silver EPEAT designation: All required criteria and 50% of optional criteria are fulfilled
· Gold EPEAT designation: All required criteria and 75% of optional criteria are met

With these evaluation labels you can additionally emphasize the environmental compatibility and sustainability of your devices.

The evaluation of the products is based on these criteria for environmental compatibility and sustainability of a device according to EPEAT:

· Reduction / elimination of environmentally relevant substances
· Material selection
· End of life design
· Product shelf life, life cycle extension
· Energy savings
· Recycling
· Company profile
· Packaging

The VDE Institute as your experienced EPEAT partner

We inform you about all relevant requirements for your products and their verification. In our laboratories we offer you the possibility to test single components as well as complete devices against the EPEAT criteria.

As an EPEAT qualified Conformity Assurance Body (CAB), we are also qualified to handle your registration with EPEAT.