BACKGROUND

In 2006, China passed a law regulating the use of six hazardous substances found in certain electronic equipment. This law was modelled on a similar EU Directive, and was informally referred to as “China RoHS1”. In 2016, China passed a new law which repealed China RoHS1 (hereafter “China RoHS2”). In its initial phase, China RoHS2 requires labelling electrical and electronic products (EEPs) to denote the level of certain hazardous substances in any EEP manufactured or sold in China. In its second phase, which starts from 12 March 2019, a catalogue of electrical and electronic products (Catalogue) will come into force, and certain restrictions and certifications for each of the products listed in the Catalogue will be imposed.

On 15 March 2018, the China Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) issued the Catalogue and an exemptions list to the Catalogue (Exemptions List), which will come into force in 12 March 2019.

THE CATALOGUE

Pursuant to China RoHS2, products listed in the Catalogue (Listed Products) must comply with hazardous substance restrictions for lead, mercury, cadmium, hexavalent chromium, polybrominated biphenyl (PBB) and polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE), unless they fall into the Exemptions List. The Catalogue lists twelve product types (with limited carve-outs):

  • refrigerators;
  • air conditioners;
  • washing machines;
  • electric water heaters;
  • printers;
  • photocopiers;
  • fax machines;
  • televisions;
  • monitors (such as computer monitors and CCTVs);
  • microcomputers (such as personal computers, laptops, tablets and PDAs);
  • mobile communication devices; and
  • telephones.

The Catalogue will not apply to a Listed Product when such product is used as a part of a non-Listed Product. However, if the Listed Product is sold in the market separately and its final use is unclear, then the Catalogue applies.

The tolerated maximum concentration values (MCVs) for lead, mercury, hexavalent chromium, polybrominated biphenyl (PBB) and polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) contained in Listed Products are currently being set as 0.1% or 1,000 parts per million (PPM). And the tolerated MCV for cadmium is 0.01% or 100 PPM. A “Conformity Assessment System” (合格评定制度) will be established to certify the compliance of MCVs in due course.

THE EXEMPTIONS LIST

The Exemptions List sets forth a total of 39 circumstances under which an exemption could be given. Similar to EU Directive 2011/65/EU, China RoHS2 also includes an exemptions list. Products that fall into the list are either (totally or for a certain period of time) exempted from restrictions on the use of hazardous substance or are allowed to contain certain amount of hazardous substances that are higher than the tolerated MCV levels.

CONCLUSION

Starting from 12 March 2019, any Listed Product manufactured in or imported into China, for sale in China, is subject to the restrictions on the use of hazardous substance. Market players shall ensure compliance and continue to assess whether their products are included in the (future) catalogue scope as the Catalogue may be updated from time to time. Furthermore, EEPs that are not included in the Catalogue may still be subject to China RoHS2 product marking requirements, which were introduced in the initial phase of China RoHS2.