Two environmental mandates that have a significant impact on the electronics industry advanced forward this week.
In China, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) published the latest proposals on the so-called "China RoHS" rule. Similar to the EU's Restriction on Hazardous Substances, China RoHS regulates the use and disposal of certain hazardous materials in the manufacturing of electronics.
The proposals include further clarification on the definition of Electrical and Electronic Equipment (EEE) and are along the lines of RoHS in the European Union.
According to Gary Nevison, head of Legislation & Compliance at Premier Farnell/element14:
The product scope moves from Electronic Information Products (EIPs) to EEE similar to the EU, and as a result, many home appliances and electronic toys that fell out of scope of EIPs will be regulated under the new proposals.
The new proposals require that manufacturers and importers of electrical and electronic products provide information about the impact of a product on the environment and human health when the product is misused or disposed of in addition to the name and concentration of hazardous, the name of parts that contain hazardous substances, and whether a part or product can be recycled.
Under previous proposals, products listed in the Key Administrative Catalogue for the Pollution Control of EIPs, would need to be tested by one of the approved labs in China and obtain China RoHS Certification (CCC) accreditation.
Under the new China RoHS proposals, the Catalogue will be renamed as the Target Administrative Catalogue for the Pollution Control of Electrical and Electronic Products. Various government bodies will set a timeline to prohibit the use of certain hazardous chemicals for the products listed in the catalogue.
The proposals are open for consultation until July 10.
In the US, revisions to the 2008 Definition of Solid Waste (DSW) were discussed by industry association IPC and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA has proposed changes to the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) DSW rule. The IPC is encouraging provisions for secondary materials recycling be included in the upcoming revision.
According to the IPC, wastewater treatment sludge from electroplating is one of the largest sources in the United States of untapped metal-bearing secondary materials that can be recycled. Many of these materials are put into landfills because of EPA hazardous waste regulations.
More than 9.7 million pounds of copper were landfilled -- rather than recycled -- in 2010, according to the IPC. The 2011 proposed changes to the solid-waste rule would continue to inhibit the recycling of materials by imposing unnecessary burdens, the association adds.
IPC leaders are encouraging the EPA to include transfer-based exclusion and remanufacturing exclusions in the revision.