Nanoco Group PLC

Legal uncertainty surrounds use of cadmium in television and computer displays for EU market

Published on 5/10/2015

Philips branded cadmium based displays to be released into EU

Nanoco, the developer and manufacturer of cadmium-free quantum dots, has challenged the legality of cadmium quantum dot screens in the EU market, by requesting an official investigation into the issue through a Petition with the European Parliament.

This initiative comes at a time when TPV, under the Philips brand, is reported to introduce into the European market LCD (liquid-crystal-display) monitors containing cadmium based quantum dots this month.

In May 2015 the European Parliament voted 618 to 33 to reject a Delegated Act by the European Commission extending the use of toxic cadmium in televisions and other displays until July 2018. The European Parliament considered the European Commission’s justifications for maintaining cadmium exemptions as “manifestly incorrect”.

Rather than accepting the European Parliament’s vote effectively ending the exemption, the European Commission decided to reassess whether the exemption should be kept in place for the future.

The Petition states that the May 2015 European Parliament vote rejecting the European Commission legal act exempting cadmium quantum dots in electronic equipment from the hazardous substance bans under the EU RoHS Directive means that cadmium quantum dots are consequently no longer legally allowed in the EU as of 1 July 2014.

Michael Edelman, CEO of Manchester, UK-based Nanoco Group plc, a world leader in the development and manufacture of cadmium-free quantum dots and other nanomaterials, said:

“There is no legal basis for keeping or allowing new cadmium displays in the market.

“Alternatives are readily available and the previous cadmium quantum dot exemption expired with the Parliament’s vote.

“The Commission’s decision to re-evaluate the cadmium quantum dots exemption, therefore, makes no sense – which is why we engaged with the Petitions Committee.”

For further information, please contact:

Michael Edelman, Chief Executive Officer
Keith Wiggins, Chief Operating Officer
+44 (0) 161 603 7900

Instinctif Partners
Adrian Duffield/Lauren Foster
+44 207 457 2040

Notes for editors:

Under a 2011 European Directive on Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS), the use of cadmium in TVs, monitors and lighting was permitted until 1 July 2014, after which it would be illegal.

In January 2015, the European Commission adopted a Delegated Act that would allow cadmium in displays in Europe until June 2018.

That Act was rejected by the European Parliament because Parliament concluded that the Commission’s Delegated Act described an outdated situation, since displays using cadmium-free quantum dots are already widely available across Europe, while cadmium-based displays had all been withdrawn from the market since 2014.

The reassessment procedure that has now been announced by the European Commission will take up to four years until May 2019. This will effectively allow cadmium containing quantum dots displays back into the European market, and for an even longer period than the July 2018 end date originally adopted by the Commission.

Under a reasoned interpretation of the RoHS Directive, the RoHS Directive does not give the Commission the power to fully repeat its earlier assessment each time it is over-ruled by Parliament. Such a system would allow the Commission to extend the use of cadmium indefinitely. Such system would directly contravene the decision of the European Parliament and the purpose of the RoHS Directive.

The RoHS Directive (Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive)

EU Directive 2011/65 on the restriction of the use of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment (RoHS Directive) bans the use of certain heavy metals (including cadmium) and selected other hazardous substances in electronic equipment. RoHS also sets out exemptions from these substance bans for certain essential applications where no reliable alternatives are available. Exemptions are time limited and renewable and are decided by the European Commission by means of so-called Delegated Acts.


Cadmium is a highly toxic and carcinogenic by-product of zinc and copper production. Cadmium accumulates in the body, so that even low level exposure results in a build up over time to dangerous levels. It is hazardous in the general environment as well as direct exposure. Recital (7) of the RoHS Directive notes that significant amounts of waste electrical and electronic equipment will end up in normal disposal and that, even if collected correctly, the controlled substances will still be hazardous to health and the environment.