- Flame Retardants
The European Directive on the Restriction of certain Hazardous Substances in Electrical and Electronic Equipment (RoHS, 2002/95/EC) has by now has been transposed into national legislation in Member States of the EU. China has issued corresponding legislation under a law called "Measures for Administration of the Pollution Control of Electronic Information Products", but widely referred to as "Chinese RoHS". It will target the same six hazardous substances which are regulated by the EU law, namely the heavy metals cadmium, lead, mercury, and hexavalent chromium as well as the flame retardants polybrominated biphenyl (PBB) and diphenylethers (PBDE).
The main means of control will be a mark which must be affixed by suppliers to the device sold, or clearly printed in papers accompanying the supplied goods if marking is not possible.
The green e with two arrows chasing each other in a circle is the mark of equipment which is free of the targeted substances. The orange symbol exemplifies the marking of the product's "environmentally friendly use period".
The number in the middle of the circle tells the consumer how long the product can be safely used, without risk to their health or the environment due to the hazardous materials contained in the product.
The marking is required already in March of 2007, but a date for the ban on the hazardous substances is not yet clear. Regulations implementing this aspect of the new law are expected soon. The Chinese law may have a broader reach than the EU directive: For example, the EU only regulates the product if you have to plug it in, while the Chinese draft list of electronic information products includes materials used in the manufacturing process to produce electrical equipment as well.
The Chinese law has left the door open for manufacturers based in China to continue to produce products containing the hazardous substances: as long as they are for export-only.