Monday, March 23, 2009

RoHS as Environmental Friendliness Indicator

I was watching an infomercial for one these infrared ovens last night, and they claimed it was very environmentally friendly. As evidence for this they cited the fact that the oven RoHS compliant. I had never heard of RoHS, so I decided to see how RoHS compliance indicated environmental friendliness. The website linked above also prominently displays the NuWave's RoHS compliance. They describe RoHS thusly:

RoHS stands for "the restriction of the use of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment".The RoHS Directive took effect on July 1, 2006, and it bans the placing on the EU market of new electrical and electronic equipment containing more than the allowed levels of types of potentially harmful heavy metals including lead, cadmium, mercury, hexavalent chromium, polybrominated biphenyl (PBB), and polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) flame retardants.
They then go on to explain the RoHS is non-binding in the US and that they chose to be RoHS compliant due to their concerns about the environment. In any event, it does appear to be beneficial to the environment, and they are not currently forced by law to make these changes, so they deserve some credit for that. They do not claim that all of their products are RoHS compliant, so it could just be that they were already RoHS compliant and decided to claim it as an additional feature of the product. It could also be that they would like to reach the European market in the future, so the designed their manufacturing processes to be RoHS, or they could be anticipating changes in state laws that would force RoHS compliance.

On a related note, this product almost certainly uses less energy to cook the same amount of food as a traditional oven, so they may deserve some credit for that as well. I would like to see an analysis of various cooking techniques and the energy used. I would imagine that typical ovens would be very inefficient since they have to heat the entire interior of the oven, and they often times heat the area around the oven considerably as well. It would be an interesting analysis.

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