An ElementCollection mapping can be used to define a collection of Embeddable objects. This is not a typical usage of Embeddable objects as the objects are not embedded in the source object's table, but stored in a separate collection table. This is similar to a OneToMany, except the target object is an Embeddable instead of an Entity. This allows collections of simple objects to be easily defined, without requiring the simple objects to define an Id or ManyToOne inverse mapping. ElementCollection can also override the mappings, or table for their collection, so you can have multiple entities reference the same Embeddable class, but have each store their dependent objects in a separate table.
The limitations of using an ElementCollection instead of a OneToMany is that the target objects cannot be queried, persisted, merged independently of their parent object. They are strictly privately-owned (dependent) objects, the same as an Embedded mapping. There is no cascade option on an ElementCollection, the target objects are always persisted, merged, removed with their parent. ElementCollection still can use a fetch type and defaults to LAZY the same as other collection mappings.