As China emerges as a major global manufacturing and consumer powerhouse, discarded electronics and household appliances, many filled with toxic chemicals, are piling up, posing a severe threat to the environment and sustainable economic growth.
Ministry of Information Industry (MII) official Huang Jianzhong said a regulation to control electronic waste would be published before the end of the year. The Management Regulation on the Recycling and Treatment of Disposed Appliances and Electronics Products has been jointly drafted by six ministries, including MII, the Ministry of Commerce, and the State Environment Protection Administration (SEPA).
Mr. Jianzhong, director of the MII's Economic Reform and Operation Department, revealed that four of the ministries have so far approved the regulation.
The new rule will cover all electrical and electronics equipment on the market, regardless of whether it has been produced in, or imported to, China, said Mr. Jianzhong. It calls for manufacturers of personal computers, TV sets, mobile phones, DVD players, refrigerators, and air-conditioners to select environmentally-friendly raw materials for their products and recycle the discarded ones. Manufacturers that do not comply to the regulations could either be fined and/or have their business license revoked, according to Mr. Jianzhong.
Commenting on the detailed rules, Mr. Jianzhong said China has referred to the relevant requirements of the European Union (EU) to guarantee that "Chinese companies will not be squeezed out of the market" once the EU adopts two related laws.
"We are trying our best to catch up with the EU in drawing up rules related to electronic waste, by adopting the same, or at least similar, standards," said Mr. Jianzhong. "China should at least keep in pace with the EU in implementing such rules."
According to Mr. Jianzhong, the regulation being drafted will probably be released later than the date the EU's WEEE directive goes into effect.
He argued that, based on the market demand, China's imports will only be slightly affected in the short-term. But the absence, or delayed implementation, of electronic waste rules will leave the country at a disadvantage. (China Daily, China View)
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