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China RoHS Inches Forward

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.

5 comments on “China RoHS Inches Forward

  1. Nemos
    June 30, 2011

    “the global electronics industry is getting some clarification on China's long-awaited RoHS environmental standard.”

    We say in Greek the following adage “better late than never “. It is understandably may this cause bureaucracy in China's electronics industry but we have the real example in Europe that this regulation can be functional.  

  2. Daniel
    July 1, 2011

    “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 .….companies concerned that the testing procedures will add cost, red tape, and liability to the already-challenging Chinese trade environment.”

    Since it’s about China, we cannot predict anything. We had seen that they are not disclosure anything publically still last moment or up to the time of implementation. Of course this can increase the cost and added burdens to companies and if they want they can scrutiny companies based on such testing. So in contrast, on RoHS basis they can tired of companies.

  3. kaweston
    July 4, 2011

    I would like to better understand the author's comment: “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”.  EU RoHS has, since it's inception, permitted up to 1000ppm of Hg, Pb, PBB, PBDE, Hexavalent Chromium and 100ppm of Cadmium (in each homogeneous material).  In fact, the recast of EU RoHS, announced in the EU Official Journal on 1-July-2011, re-iterates these concentration limits.  I also believe that “China RoHS” originally proposed the same maximum concentration values, but not necessarily at the homogeneous material level.  Thanks.

  4. Eldredge
    July 5, 2011

    Establishing standards is one step, establishing the methods and enforcement for compliance is another. China may need to implement all of these, but it won't happen rapidly.

  5. mfbertozzi
    July 5, 2011

    Even news reported in Barbara's editorial is a significant step forward (we must not forget recently major Chinese producers have been banned for example in India because of lack of security and compliancy to standard) I trust Eldredge. One shot result is not similar to methodology achievement. Anyway I am convinced they really have the talent and determination to reach also that target. It's only a matter of time.

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