No less than five and a half years after its first draft revision of the regulation, on January 21, 2016 China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, along with seven other ministries, finally promulgated the new revision of China RoHS, now called “Management Methods for the Restriction of the Use of Hazardous Substances in Electrical and Electronic Products.” They also issued a short document in a question/answer format that provides little more than a short history and background of the revision.
Two important differences to note in the title: the reference to “restriction” versus “control of pollution” and the term “electrical and electronic products”, as opposed to “electronic information products.”
An FAQ is also in the works.
The regulation will come into effect on July 1, 2016, at which time the original China RoHS regulation will be repealed.
Note that Tad Ferris of Foley & Lardner has produced English translations of both the new law as well as the “explanation”, available here in his analysis, which is useful and complementary to my analysis below.
Key differences with the previous version of China RoHS that directly impact manufacturers in the near term include:
- A different, and broader scope. In an attempt to harmonize more closely with EU RoHS, the scope has been changed from “Electronic Information Products” (as was defined by a very long and curious listing of finished goods, components and materials back in 2006, before China RoHS came into effect) to “Electrical and Electronic Products.” EEP are defined to be equipment dependent on electric current or electromagnetic fields for operation and equipment for the generation, transfer and measurement of such currents and fields, with a working voltage rating not to exceed 1000 volts alternating current or 1500 volts direct current. This is effectively the same as the EU RoHS Directive (2011/65/EU) definition in Article 3, paragraph 1.
- Note that unless MIIT and the group of ministries defines this scope more succinctly, this could encompass products that are not yet subject to EU RoHS, particularly industrial Category 9 products and Category 11 products, as well as all EEE that are currently defined as being excluded from the scope of EU RoHS (as described in Article 2, including military products, large scale industrial tools, etc.). To expect such companies to be able to comply with this requirement in a few short months is impractical and should raise alarm bells among manufacturers of these products and their industry associations.
- Rather than calling out specific metals as hazardous substances, the new regulation defines the metals and their compounds as the targeted restricted substances. For instance, “lead” is now “lead and its compounds”. The definition of the two classes of flame retardants, PBBs and PBDEs, has not changed.
- While phthalates are not mentioned, the ability to add “Other harmful substances as regulated by the State” exists.
- Actual substance restrictions will again be limited to products listed in a “catalogue”, and, according to Article 18, there will be some sort of “conformity assessment system” that will be developed. This implies it will be different from the onerous one developed, but never implemented, as part of the previous China RoHS. But this remains to be seen. So, for the time being, China RoHS remains a declaration-only regulation; there are no substance restrictions yet.
- The updated marking/labeling standard, SJ/T 11364-2014, will supersede SJ/T 11364-2006 on July 1, 2016 as well. Mr. Ferris also produced a translation of this standard, available here. While differences are subtle, they are important and are described in the standard’s preface. Note that the reference to the package labeling standard, GB 18455-2001 (which has become GB/T 18455-2010, a voluntary standard), has been removed, as has the requirement to label the name of the packaging materials. However, note that Article 12 of the law addresses packaging materials, vaguely.
- The key near-term impact to manufacturers is that some of the wording for the table has changed, primarily to reference GB/T 26572 (see below). Therefore, existing artwork in manuals or on websites will have to change as well.
- SJ/T 11363-2006, “Requirements for Concentration Limits for Certain Hazardous Substances in Electronic Information Products,” has been replaced by GB/T 26572-2011, “Requirements of concentration limits for certain restricted substances in electrical and electronic products.” While the name change is subtle, the details remain consistent with the previous standard. For instance, EEP-C is consistent with the definition of EIP-C in the original standard, which allows components which are below 4mm3 in size (such as 0805 and smaller SMT devices) to be considered as a single homogeneous material for the purposes of the restriction.
One standard that is not changing is the Environment-Friendly Use Period guideline, SJ/Z 11388-2009. This remains a requirement so this guideline is to continue to be used to define the methods and approaches that can be used to devise the EFUP number for a given product.
I feel that we have quite a long way to go here, and little real time, to get the clarity necessary for implementation. Stay tuned at our China RoHS website, www.ChinaRoHS.com.
RoHS 2 Update
Note that the report: “Assistance to the Commission on Technological Socio-Economic and Cost-Benefit Assessment Related to Exemptions from the Substance restrictions in Electrical and Electronic Equipment (RoHS Directive)" (Pack 7) has been published by the Öko-Institut e.V. The report summarizes the assessment of three requests for exemption renewal from the 2015-2016 RoHS Evaluation Project − Pack 7 (Exemption 9b, Exemption 13a and Exemption 13b).
The consultants recommends narrowing the scope of exemption 9b and shortening the allowed time to three years (i.e., it would expire in 2019). On the other hand, they recommend continuing the same wording and using the maximum allowable remaining validity periods (five to seven years, depending on product category) for exemptions 13a and 13b.
The next step is for the European Commission to review this report and decide how to address these three exemptions. This may take several months.