China RoHS

An Introduction to the requirements
China RoHS is the name commonly adopted for the Chinese Law "Administration on the Control of Pollution Caused by Electronic Information Products"

Many countries around the world are in the process of introducing legislation that restricts the use of "hazardous materials" in electronic and electrical products, with the intention of reducing the risk to human health and damage to the environment caused by the presence of these substances within the products at end of life.

In the EU, the RoHS Directive has been transposed into Law within the Member States and came into force on the 1st of July 2006.

After several postponements, China has introduced its own requirements that became Law on the 1st of March 2007.

EU RoHS versus China RoHS
There are some similarities between EU and China RoHS, but there are also many important differences.
An obvious similarity is the restriction of the same substances (Lead, Mercury, Cadmium, Hexavalent Chromium, PBB and PBDE).

However, there are some significant differences between China RoHS and EU RoHS which are outlined below:
  • The scope of "China RoHS" is different.
  • Third party approval by a Chinese laboratory is mandatory for products specified in the "Catalogue".
  • Labels, product marking, and disclosure of substances are required.
  • The definition of "put on the market" is different.
These aspects will now be explored below.

In the EU the scope of RoHS is taken from the WEEE Directive which specifies 10 high level indicative categories of equipment.

Of these 10 categories, 2 are currently exempt from the requirements, "medical devices" and "control and monitoring equipment", note the latter has a very wide interpretation.

There is no legal requirement for components to comply with the provisions of the RoHS Directive but industry recognises that "compliant" components are needed to construct compliant equipment, which is why the status of components is declared by suppliers and selection is made on the basis of the intended use.

China RoHS is very different in that its scope is not limited to equipment.

It introduces the concept of "EIP", or "Electronic Information Products".

These can be either components or equipment and many items that are not legally required to comply with EU RoHS are required to do so in China.

For many of these items third party approval by a Chinese laboratory will be mandatory and in others self-declaration by the supplier will be specified.

This is not simply a case of declaring whether an item is "compliant" or not as the requirement is for the hazardous content of the article be detailed in a table supplied with the product in Chinese language.

Third Party Approval
Approval by a Chinese laboratory to the relevant Chinese Standard will be mandatory for product specified in the "Catalogue".

The "Catalogue" is yet to be finalised, as are the relevant standards to facilitate testing and approval to gain the "CCC" (China Compulsory Certification) mark.

It is currently thought that "CCC" approval will mainly be specified for finished goods, rather than components, although it is highly likely there will be some exceptions.

This means that products that could previously be freely imported and sold into the Chinese market without restriction will be potentially be subject to these provisions.

Those products not listed in the "Catalogue" but are defined as "EIP" within the meaning of the regulations can be declared in conformity by the supplier following the guidelines for product marking and disclosure as below.

Labels and Product Marking / Disclosure of Substances
In addition to the mandatory approval for products specified in the "Catalogue", there is a further requirement to specify the following for all "EIP".
  • The presence of any restricted material
  • The "environmentally friendly use period"
  • Packaging recycling label
There are defined formats for the "Environmentally Friendly Use Period" and "Packaging Recycling" labels.

The presence of any restricted material must be detailed in a table made available to the end customer in Chinese.

Note that these requirements are stipulated for all "EIP" and not just those required to be certified by a third party.

This is very different from the approach for EU RoHS where there is no requirement to mark or provide any details for hazardous material content.

In the EU some restricted substances are permitted in applications for which there is no alternative, for example lead in ceramic parts that can be found in surface mount devices.

In China even if there were to be exemptions the disclosure of the restricted substances would still be required.

Put on the Market
Another significant difference between EU RoHS and China RoHS is the definition of "put on the market".
In the EU the definition allows for product within scope and already in the supply chain to be passed down to the end user.

China RoHS is very different in this respect, as there is no provision for stock in the supply chain.

This effectively introduced the requirement for all products within scope to comply with the marking and disclosure provisions from the 1st of March 2007.

In practice this means that all equipment and components currently held by distributors in China and those imported or sold after this date should be labelled with the relevant information to the end user.

The timescales for the mandatory 3rd party approval requirements are as yet unknown, when the first "Catalogue" is published these will become clearer.

Further documentation will initially be published in Chinese with official English translations becoming available in due course.

Alan Lund
Product Compliance Manager