The growth of its economy and status as a manufacturing superpower means that China’s environmental activities and policies are attracting increased scrutiny from around the world and at home.
China is a huge producer and consumer of electric and electronic products, and needs to recycle and dispose of large volumes of waste products. This has opened up new business opportunities. Recently, a number of meetings and developments regarding China’s environmental policy have addressed recycling and pollution issues. A legal system governing pollution control and environmental protection on electrical and electronic products in China is emerging.
A Management Regulation of WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) Recycling and Disposal policy is in development and has undergone departmental review. The revised policy will soon be submitted to the government administrative department, according to Feng Liang, director of the State Development and Reform Commission’s Department of Environment and Resources. He spoke at the China International WEEE Recycling Technology Conference, November 20, 2007.
The regulation seeks “to establish a recycling and disposal system of WEEE and implement multirecycling and centralized disposal systems.”
Effective recycling is key, and the policy calls for a multichannel recycling infrastructure that includes a product sales and maintenance network, distributor outlets, a waste-materials recycling enterprise, service companies, and individual recycling businesses.
Provincial-level administrations will be required to work out a plan for WEEE disposal, as well as implement a qualification examination and approval system to qualify enterprises that participate in the plan.
The policy also defines a system of extended producer responsibility.
To help ensure the policy is implemented, it calls for the government to establish a special fund to help pay for WEEE disposal and compensate recycling and disposal costs. Tax relief would also help ease the cost burden on companies and consumers who recycle WEEE products. This fund will be generated from fees paid by manufacturers of electrical and electronic products, which will likely be collected by tax authorities and Customs.
Initially, China’s WEEE will cover TVs, refrigerators, air-conditioners, computers, and washing machines. China will encourage recycling of other products and eventually the mandate will expand to incorporate other electronic products into the scope of the jurisdiction.
Pollution Prevention Policy
China’s Management Measures on Environmental Pollution Prevention and Control of Electronic Wastes officially took effect on February 1, 2008. The policy, developed by the State Environmental Protection Administration of China, calls for China to license enterprises that dismantle and dispose of electronic wastes. Environmental impact assessments and information on the listed business units will be published.
The period between the policy’s issuance in September 2007 and its implementation in February was seen as a transition period for the companies involved in recycling and disposal, and the companies were expected to improve their operations during this period to meet the demands of the measures.
New Environmental Initiatives
The China Ministry of Information Industry recently launched a new initiative to establish industrial studies on recycling and reusing waste electronic information equipment and establish large demonstration bases dealing with recycling and dismantling electronic information products.
China’s version of Europe’s Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) regulation is called the China Administration on the Control of Pollution Caused by Electronic Information Products. The rule officially took effect in March of 2007 and requires that electronic information products sold in the Chinese market must notify the buyer of the presence of toxic and hazardous substances. While the rule is often referred to simply as China RoHS, it requires only notification of the use of these substances and does not block the sale of products that contain them, as Europe’s RoHS does.
China RoHS recently took another step in that direction, beginning work on a Key Administrative Catalog for the Control of Pollution Caused by Electronic Information Products. When implemented, the catalog will set maximum acceptable levels for hazardous substances in products to be sold in China. A timetable for implementation has not been established.