After more than three years of holding its breath, the global electronics industry is getting some clarification on China's long-awaited RoHS environmental standard. “Some three and a half years late there finally looks to be movement on defining China RoHS,” writes Premier Farnell plc's head of legislation Gary Nevison on his blog.
However, Nevison tells EBN, China traditionally doesn't share a lot of detail about its mandates, and this time is no exception. In an early analysis of the move, Nevison finds the scope of the products covered under China RoHS — which restricts the use of certain hazardous substances in electronics products sold in China — has been expanded from “electronic information products” to “electrical and electronic products.”
The global electronics industry has been waiting more than three years for China to clarify the scope of its RoHS requirements, which are viewed as even more restrictive than the version adopted by the European Union. (See: Revised RoHS Directive Adopted in EU.) However, while the EU's RoHS bans outright the use of lead, mercury, cadmium, hexavalent chromium, polybrominated biphenyls, and polybrominated diphenyl ethers, China's version sets concentration limits on the use of these chemicals.
The electronics industry's main concern regarding China is the possibility that China will require products be tested before they enter the country and that testing will be conducted by Chinese authorities. Additionally, while the EU's RoHS focuses on end-products as its main concern, China has been contemplating testing components and subassemblies for compliance. Both possibilities have electronics companies concerned that the testing procedures will add cost, red tape, and liability to the already-challenging Chinese trade environment.
According to Nevison, China authorities are working on the following China RoHS standards that will soon be published:
- Marking for control of pollution caused by electrical and electronic equipment
- Guidance on risk assessment for certain hazardous substances contained in electrical and electronic equipment
- General rules on the screening of restricted substances in electrical and electronic equipment — x-ray fluorescence spectrometry
- Requirement around the soldering process for lead free components
“Finally, the China National Certification and Accreditation Administration will soon publish an implementation rule on pollution prevention and control of electrical and electronic products which will define details on the certification required on these products,” Nevison writes.
It's likely more time will pass before any further clarification is available. All of China's RoHS materials are published in Chinese. Industry associations and consultants eventually translate the standards and publish them in English. Nevison says he's requested copies of the actual standards and is awaiting translation.