RoHS and WEEE
RoHS (Restriction of Hazardous Substances) is sometimes referred to as "Lead Free", but that is only part of the story. This restriction actually includes six hazardous materials; and, to be fully RoHS compliant, electronic components must be capable of withstanding the higher temperatures required for lead-free solder.
The European Union (EU) instituted RoHS requirements on July 1, 2006. California followed on January 1, 2007 and China on March 1, 2007. Japan implemented a voluntary RoHS-like program in 2005. Other countries and U.S. states are currently in the process of considering or legislating RoHS or RoHS-like directives.
Today, most electonic components are RoHS compliant, and product compliance is much easier than it was in 2006 and 2007. Mixing compliant and non-compliant components can be a problem, however - especially if you are placing RoHS compliant BGA's and LAN Grid Arrays on boards that are not intended to be built with lead-free solder. Please talk with our process engineers about this subject.
WEEE (Waste from Electrical & Electronic Equipment) is a companion requirement in the European Union. WEEE mandates treatment, recovery, and recycling of electric and electrical equipment.
Please visit the following web sites if you are concerned about RoHS and WEEE compliance.
Excellent overview of RoHS and WEEE - http://www.rohsguide.com.
Information more specific to electronics manufacturing from IPC - http://leadfree.ipc.org.
White Paper on RoHS and WEEE from Hitachi Computer Products - http://www.thomasnet.com/white-papers/abstract/100186/information-only-white-paper-rohs2002-95-ec-and-weee200296-ec.html.