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June 14, 2012

Chinese Ministry Releases RoHS Proposal

Bergeson & Campbell, P.C.

The Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) proposed amending the Restriction on the use of Hazardous Substances in electrical and electronic equipment (RoHS) on June 4, 2012. The proposed revisions would align the definition of electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) with the European Union’s (EU) RoHS Directive; clarify the definition of hazardous substances; provide MIIT more authority to implement RoHS; and create a voluntary certification process for EEE in China. The proposal is based upon the restriction of the content of lead (Pb), mercury (Hg), cadmium (Cd), hexavalent chromium (Cr(VI)), polybrominated biphenyls (PBB), and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE), which are the same chemicals restricted by the EU. Comments on the proposed revisions are due July 10, 2012. More information is available, in Chinese, online.

Under the proposed amendments, EEE products subject to certification would be grouped into four product types:

  • Devices: Computers, monitors, TVs, mobile phones, etc.
  • Peripherals: Keyboard, mouse, sound card, graphics card, Backlight components, remote control, print head, toner, power adapter, etc.
  • Parts and Components: Capacitor, resistor, connector, microphone, shock absorber, light-emitting diode (LED), battery, compact disc (CD), optical head, cartridge, etc.
  • Materials: Insulation board, piezoelectric materials, liquid crystal materials, quartz products, ink, glue, solder, toner (masterbatch), glass products, flame retardant, etc.

As with the EU RoHS II, the proposed revisions identify specific exemptions from voluntary certification based upon the hazardous substance, the product type, and the concentration of the hazardous substance.

Voluntary certification (where necessary) is split into four types, with selection based upon the product type (above) unless otherwise stated. The four certification types are:

  • Type 1 (applicable to Materials and Parts and Components): This is a basic screening test that identifies and characterizes the product and its hazardous substance content. The products are analyzed for hazardous substance content by X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF), and, in the event of uncertainty of result, a chemical test is performed. A follow-up inspection is performed after certification.
  • Type II (applicable only to certain Parts and Components): This certification includes the screening test defined above and, where necessary, disassembly of the finished product to perform a more thorough identification and characterization of hazardous constituents.
  • Type III (applicable to Devices and Peripherals and therefore considered to be applicable for the majority of finished EEE): Considered the “optimal test” level as it combines a high level of hazard information with a reduced level of testing (compared to Type IV). This certification includes the basic screening test (as above) with a self-declaration and a follow-up inspection. There is no disassembly of the finished product as set out in Type II.
  • Type IV (intended only for those products that have been included in the implementation rules): This certification includes a full disassembly test (as set out in Type II) with a self-declaration. It also includes an initial factory test and a follow-up inspection after certification. This is the largest and more complex of the types of certification.

Testing must be conducted at a laboratory mutually accredited by the Certification and Accreditation Administration of China and MIIT. This means that all testing for Chinese Voluntary RoHS Certification must be conducted in China. Sampling must be performed by the testing laboratory at a location mutually agreed by the certification body and the applicant. The applicant may submit its voluntary certification to any certification body accredited by both the Certification and Accreditation Administration of China and MIIT. This suggests that Chinese laboratories are likely to function as both the testers and certifiers of the voluntary RoHS legislation.

In addition to the product-specific exemptions for substances outlined in the proposed revisions, in the case of multiple product models in the same series containing the same hazardous substances, a “primary model” may be defined that represents all products in the series. This can include a ten percent difference in the amount of hazardous substances in the products of the series. While no more than ten product models may be included in the same series utilizing the same “primary model,” where all product models share the same percentage hazardous substances, this can be increased to include all in the hazard profile.