China Proposes New Restriction of Hazardous Substance ("RoHS") Requirements for Electronics Manufacturers

20 May 2015 Manufacturing Industry Advisor Blog

Do you manufacture electrical and electronic products, parts or components?  Do you manage manufacturing design for such products? Do you oversee Chinese suppliers manufacturing such products? If so, you need to follow Restriction of Hazardous Substance (“RoHS”) developments closely for possible future changes to product content restrictions in China.

Earlier this week, on May 18, 2015, China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (“MIIT”) released a draft, public-comment version of revised “Management Methods for the Restriction of the Use of Hazardous Substances in Electrical and Electronic Products.” Access our full English reference translation of this draft here. The public-comment period for the draft ends June 17, 2015.

The draft, and the existing regulation the draft proposes to replace, are often referred to as “China RoHS” regulations, with the existing regulation commonly called “China RoHS 1” and the draft regulation referred to as “China RoHS 2.” The “RoHS” reference arises from similarities to and apparent influences of the European Community RoHS Directive.

For manufacturers unfamiliar with China RoHS, this regulatory program establishes the following key requirements:

  • Hazardous-substance content limits for lead, mercury, cadmium, and hexavalent chromium compounds, polybrominated biphenyls and polybrominated diphenyl ethers and
  • Labeling and information-disclosure requirements involving product, part, component and material hazardous substance content and product “environmental protection use periods.”

The hazardous-substance content limits have not been implemented under China RoHS 1. However, the labeling and information-disclosure requirements have been in place for specific “electronic information products” under this program since March 2007.

For all manufacturers, including those that have been following China RoHS developments, the draft China RoHS 2 regulation released on May 18 would effectuate a number of important changes to the program, such as the following:

  • Expanding/adjusting the scope of applicable labeling and information-disclosure requirements, mentioned above, focusing on “electrical and electronic products,” which are defined as:
    • “Devices and accessory products with rated working electrical voltages of no more than 1500 volts direct current and 1000 volts alternating current which function by means of current or electromagnetic fields, and generate, transmit and measure such currents and electromagnetic fields”;
  • Excluding power generation, transmission and distribution equipment from the definition of “electrical and electronic products”;
  • Applying hazardous-substance content limits to electrical and electronic products included in a “Compliance Management Catalogue” (i.e., a to-be-developed list of electronic and electrical products, to be issued in successive batches over the duration of the regulatory program);
  • Modifying the “compulsory certification” approach reflected in RoHS 1 for a potentially more flexible “conformity assessment system” that MIIT recommends to the Certification and Accreditation Administration (“CNCA”) and that CNCA and MIIT issue and implement, with input from other agencies;
  • Re-introducing packaging material standard conformity requirements (that had been removed in earlier drafts); and
  • Removing the “products manufactured for export” exemption included in China RoHS 1.

The labeling and information-disclosure requirements under China RoHS 2, specified in a separate labeling standard, (SJ/T 11364-2014) (the English reference translation for which is available here), would become effective at the same time as China RoHS 2, per earlier MIIT guidance. The hazardous-substance content limits would not become effective under China RoHS 2 until a specified time following the promulgation of the “Compliance Management Catalogue.”

It remains to be seen whether all of the language in the May 18 draft will end up in the final RoHS 2 regulation when promulgated later this year. As anticipated in our earlier post “Trends in Chinese Regulation for Manufacturers to Watch in 2015;” however, the release of the draft RoHS 2 regulation that underscores product content restrictions are a major area for manufacturers of electrical and electronic products to continue to watch.

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