After years of uncertainty surrounding China RoHS 2, China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) published the revised regulation on January 21, 2016. Starting July 1, 2016, companies that manufacture, import or sell Electrical and Electronic Products in China will need to comply with the new requirements. China RoHS 2 aligns more closely with EU RoHS than the original China RoHS but it still retains the unique labeling and documentation requirements and expands the requirements to many products that weren’t previously in scope.
The expanded scope combined with the short timeline for compliance will certainly be a challenge for many product manufacturers. Eliminating the exclusion for exported products also affects companies that have their products manufactured in China.
Manufacturers of products that are already EU RoHS compliant should have sufficient information on hand to compile the new China RoHS documentation; but products that aren’t yet EU RoHS compliant may present a challenge to their manufacturers. For example, industrial monitoring and control instruments and products that fall into Category 11 “Other EEE not covered by any of the categories above” aren’t subject to EU RoHS requirements until 2017 and 2019 respectively, but both need to meet the China RoHS 2 requirements this year. The requirement to identify all presence of the six hazardous substance groups, including uses that are covered by EU RoHS exemptions, can create a particular challenge.
The regulation, officially titled “Management Methods for the Restriction of the Use of Hazardous Substances in Electrical and Electronic Products”, is generally aligned with the China RoHS 2 draft that was circulated in May 2015 with only a few minor surprises. As expected, the scope of the regulation is extended to all electrical and electronic products except for power generation, transmission and distribution equipment.
Definition of Electrical and Electronic Products
The definition of “Electrical and electronic products” refers to devices and accessory products which function by means of electric current or electromagnatic fields with rated working voltage up to and including 1500V DC and 1000V AC or which generate, transmit or measure such currents or electromagnetic fields. However, the definition explicitly excludes power generation, transmission and distribution equipment.
The six original EU RoHS substances are still the basis for hazardous substances in China RoHS 2; although a seventh entry of “Other harmful substances as regulated by the State” leaves the door open to additional substances such as the four phthalate substances added to EU RoHS.
Labelling and Hazardous Substance Disclosure
A hazardous substances table that indicates presence of any of the six substances and where in the product they are located was carried forward from China RoHS to China RoHS2 (Article 13). The “environmental protection use period” (EPUP) label is also still required (Article 14). The regulation states that both the substance table and the EPUP label should be displayed directly on product; although the regulation provides an alternative if necessary.
With the expanded scope of China RoHS 2, many additional products will need to display the EPUP label and the hazardous substances table as of July 1, 2016. The details of the hazardous substances table and the environmental protection use period are specified in the China standard SJ/T 11364-2014.
Similar to the substance restriction mechanism in its predecessor, China RoHS 2 includes a “Compliance Management Catalog” to implement substance restrictions, specify exemptions and provide timelines.
Compliance to China RoHS 2 will be based on a “conformity assessment system” instead of the CCC certification specified in the original China RoHS — details will be provided later. The regulation only states that MIIT working together with other organizations will “establish a creditable mechanism based on the result of the assessments”.
End of Life Information and Design for Environment
A number of subtle provisions have been added into the regulation for design for environment and to facilitate recycling. The exact expectations of these provisions aren’t specified in the regulation but may emerge over time in China national standards and the FAQ that’s expected sometime this year.
To provide some insight, we’ve pulled out a few examples of DfE implications from the regulation:
- Article 13 states that the hazardous substances table should provide information on what parts of the product may be recycled and information on possible impact on inappropriate use or disposal on the environment or health.
- Article 10 states that the producer/manufacturer shall adopt materials and technologies that protect the environment and human health, are easy to recycle and allow high product recyclability rates.
In the draft regulation released in May 2015, MIIT had removed the requirements on product packaging that were included in the original China RoHS. However, packaging was added back into the final version of China RoHS 2, although somewhat ambiguously. The new requirement states that mandatory standards and laws related to packaging must be met and that packaging materials must be nonhazardous, recyclable/biodegradable, and comply with national or industry standards.
The China RoHS 2 regulation applies to EEE products manufactured in China, imported into China or otherwise sold in China. Unlike the original China RoHS, it does not provide an exemption for EEE products that are manufactured for export.
Impact on Manufacturers
Companies that manufacture their product in China or sell product into China will likely be impacted to some degree by the new China RoHS 2 regulation. Products that were previously out of scope will need to comply with all of the marking and labeling requirements as of July 1, 2016.
The China RoHS 2 regulation is available from the MIIT website (in Chinese). An English translation of the regulation has been made available by Foley & Lardner LLP: English reference translation of the new China RoHS 2 regulation.