Introduction

On 6 January 2016, the Chinese Government published the new piece of regulatory legislation named "Administrative Measures for Restriction of Use of Hazardous Substances in Electrical and Electronic Products" also known as "China's RoHS 2" regulation. The new regulation came into effect on 1 July 2016 and repealed its previous version - China's RoHS.

Key changes in China's RoHS regime

China's RoHS which was introduced on 28 February 2006, after years of implementation, had been seen lagged behind technological developments that influence use of hazardous substances. Hence, the Government-aiming to benefit from similar EU practices, while retaining certain unique features of China-introduced the following key changes to the pre-existing RoHS regime.

  • Scope of China's RoHS 2 was changed from "Electronic Information Products" (EIP) to "Electrical and Electronic Products" (EEP). This greatly expanded coverage of the law through inclusion of many types of electrical appliances.
  • Definitions of hazardous and restricted substances were expanded to also include compounds of metals already subject to RoHS.
  • The RoHS 2 envisaged a governmental support for activities aimed at scientific research, development of technology and international cooperation on management of hazardous substances in EEP.
  • China's RoHS 2 introduced the so-called "Compliance Management Catalogue" and the new conformity assessment system for EEP, which appears to be more flexible than "compulsory certification" methodologies under RoHS.

How to comply with China's RoHS 2?

China's RoHS 2 establishes two key mandatory requirements for companies marketing and/or importing EEP into China, including: (1) maximum concentration thresholds for specific hazardous substances; and (2) labelling and information-disclosure requirements.

  • Hazardous-substance concentrations limits

China RoHS2 restricts six substances and sets their respective maximum concentration limits by weight as follows:

  • Cadmium (Cd) and its compounds: 0.01%
  • Mercury and its compounds: 0.1%
  • Lead (Pb) and its compounds: 0.1%
  • Hexavalent chromium (Cr6+) and its compounds: 0.1%
  • Polybrominated Biphenyls (PBB): 0.1%
  • Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDE): 0.1%

EEP containing hazardous substances within the above concentration limits are allowed for imports, marketing and sales in China provided that manufacturers/importers label the EEP accordingly and disclose chemical names and content of hazardous substances in question.

  • Labelling and information disclosure

Chinese national standard on industrial labelling SJ/T 11364-2014 shall mandatory apply under China's RoHS 2. This standard requires that all EEP sold in China shall carry either Logo 1 or Logo 2 labels below:

Click here for Logo 1 and Logo 2 images.

Logo 1, which should normally be green in color, indicates that the EEP does not contain any hazardous substances and is an eco-friendly product which can be recycled after being disposed. Logo 2 is normally orange in color and reflects that the EEP contains certain hazardous substances and can only be used safely during their predefined environmental safe period indicated in years in centre of the logo.

Exemptions from China's RoHS 2

China's RoHS 2 exempts the following EEP and their dedicated or customized auxiliary products from the scope:

  • Systems and equipment involved into production, transmission and distribution of energy (e.g., used in power plants, transmission and distribution stations)
  • EEP for military purposes
  • EEP for special or extreme environments
  • Goods designated for export. However, these EEP should comply with regulations on hazardous substances in countries/areas of exportation
  • EEP supplied under the temporary importation regime or for maintenance but not for sale in China
  • Demo equipment for research or testing purposes
  • Demo equipment, exhibition samples not for sale in China

In cases where overseas companies sell products to their Chinese subsidiaries with an independent legal personality status, the EEP concerned should comply with China's RoHS 2. However, if an overseas company sells EEP to its branch, which operates in China under the same legal name, these transactions are qualified as "relocation of internal asset" and not as an "introduction on the market" activity. These kinds of transactions are outside the scope of China's RoHS 2 requirements.

China's RoHS 2 further specifically excludes spare parts of EEP for after-sale services from labelling requirements to avoid unnecessarily repeated labelling.

Impacts of China's RoHS 2

China's RoHS 2 generally reflects current trends in globalization of regulatory legislation. It is based on the pre-existing China's RoHS and largely adopts the latest developments under the EU' RoHS 2 legislation and practices. It provides for new mandatory technical and labelling requirements for companies concerned.

China's RoHS 2 authorizes multiple public authorities to supervise and enforce compliance with the new rules of various economic operators as well as to impose penalties for infringements and non-compliance. Therefore, it is fundamental for a successful business in China to ensure full and on-time compliance with China's RoHS 2.