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Sustainability // Legislation


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Release of China RoHS2 expected before end of year

Chemical Watch reports that China RoHS2 could be released by the end of the year, says Tad Ferris of law firm Foley and Lardner.

Speaking today at a conference organised by engineering consultancy Edif ERA in London, he said now is a good time for companies to start assessing in-house knowledge of the regulation and develop a plan.

The Ministry of Industry, Information and Technology (MIIT), the main body developing the standard, has reached its final stage of review. But Mr Ferris reminded delegates that the original proposals for RoHS2 were notified to the World Trade Organization (WTO) five years ago and there have since been four comment periods, with no indication of when the final version would be issued.

The most recent draft, the revised Management Methods for the Restriction of the Use of Hazardous Substances in Electrical and Electronic Products, was released earlier this year for public consultation (CW 27 May 2015).

One reason for the delay, said Mr Ferris, is that RoHS2 seeks to change the compulsory pre-market certification approach in RoHS1 to a “potentially more flexible" conformity assessment system. This would mean electrical and electronic products that are included in the forthcoming Compliance Management Catalogue must meet the national or industry standards for hazardous substance limits.

The system would be overseen jointly by the Certification and Accreditation Administration (CNCA) and the ministry. The latter would be responsible for drawing up the catalogue, in collaboration with other ministries.

If adopted, the approach would give industry more flexibility to work with regulators, and companies “might qualify for a less burdensome assessment approach”, Mr Ferris said.

But it is proving difficult to harmonise the objectives of the CNCA – which is keen on retaining compulsory certification – with those of the ministry and the other agencies involved, he added.

After its release, authorities are expected to ramp up enforcement and increase compliance inspections. “Companies will be expected, at the very least, to be found to be complying with RoHS1,” he said.

There should be a gap of at least 12 months between release and implementation, subject to further adjustment, he added.

Brussels considers migration limit for BPA in FCMs

Chemical Watch reports that The European Commission is considering whether to propose a specific migration limit (SML) for bisphenol A in food contact materials (FCMs).

But it believes a ban is unnecessary because the European Food Safety Authority (Efsa) says the levels consumers are exposed to are well below the recommended safety threshold.

It is taking the step in response to the adoption, by some member states, of bans on the use of BPA in certain FCMs.

Denmark and Belgium have introduced national bans on its use in FCMs for infants and young children; Sweden has introduced a ban in coatings and varnishes for FCMs for infants and young children; and France has banned it in all food packaging, containers and utensils (CW 18 September 2015).

According to a “roadmap” document, issued by the Commission food safety directorate, DG Sante, last Friday, these national laws have made companies uncertain of which products, that use and contain BPA, can be placed on the market, since they are different from the rules set at EU level.

FCM manufacturers are investigating alternatives, says the roadmap, with trials ongoing for 90% of those packed food products for which BPA is used in FCMs. But the national laws have not allowed FCM manufacturers enough time to complete their testing and evaluation programmes.

The EU food contact materials Regulation requires the Commission to decide, following an opinion from Efsa, whether such national measures are necessary and whether it will support or decline them.

Last January, Efsa significantly lowered its tolerable daily intake (TDI) level for BPA from 50 to 4 micrograms per kilogram of bodyweight, after taking into account non-dietary sources of exposure (CW 22 January 2015). A new SML is therefore warranted on the basis of the new TDI.

In the FCMs sector, BPA, says the roadmap, is mainly used in polycarbonate water coolers and chocolate moulds, and in epoxy resin in coatings for metal food and beverage cans, jar or bottle caps. It can also be present in printing inks, adhesives and recycled paper or board.

The roadmap says tightening the SML for BPA in plastic FCMs would give producers of such materials one harmonised set of rules. It would also be easy for them to comply with because migration levels are well below the current SML. Introducing such for FCM coatings and varnishes would have similar benefits and also be possible to comply with.

However, an SML for paper and board, which acquires BPA from the recycling of thermal paper, would probably increase costs and cause difficulties in the supply chain for industry because there are large variations in levels in paper.

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