China Environmental Law

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The China WEEE Post

April 8th, 2009 · 6 Comments

Hooray, the much anticipated China WEEE post!  I hate to disappoint, but if you’ve read China’s WEEE regulation you have discovered there is not much there there.  This took five years to develop!?

The Regulation for the Administration of the Recovery 1and Disposal of Waste Electric and Electronic Products (”China WEEE,” copy available under Laws & Regulations in the right sidebar) was enacted pursuant to the Clean Production and Solid Waste Laws (although, strangely, not the Circular Economy Law) for the purpose of “regulating the recovery and disposal of waste electric and electronic products, facilitating comprehensive utilization of resources and circular economy development, protecting the environment and safeguarding human health.” (Article 1).  The regulations establish the basic framework for the recovery and disposal of WEEE which is “recovery by multiple channels and centralized disposal” (Article 5). 

The regulation (Article 2) defines only one term “disposal of waste electric and electronic products.”  It means

activities as disassembling waste electric and electronic products, extracting there from substances to be used as raw materials or fuel, reducing the quantity of existing waste electric and electronic products through changing their physical and chemical properties, reducing or eliminating their hazardous elements, and disposing of them in landfills that are in compliance with environmental protection requirements, excluding activities of product maintenance or reconditioning and use of such products after reconditioning.

It has dropped several other definitions that were in prior drafts of the regulation, such as the definition of “producer,” and the list of products covered.  Why do Chinese laws and regulations always shed definitions as they move from the draft stage to promulgation stage?

The familiar Catalogue concept was ultimately employed to designate the products which will be covered by the regulation (Article 3).  The Catalogue will be developed by the “department of the State Council in charge of comprehensive resource utilization,” which I assume is the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP), and the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT).  As anyone who has followed the development of China RoHS knows, splitting Catalogue drafting duties among agencies can inject considerable delay into the process. 

If you want a sneak preview of at least MEP’s thinking as to what is covered by China WEEE here is Appendix A to the Technical Specifications for Pollution Control in the Treatment of Waste Electronic and Electrical Products which was submitted for public comment:

Appendix A


Category and List of Waste Electronic and Electrical Products

Waste Electronic and Electrical Products include computer products, telecom equipment, video and audio products and radio and television equipment, household appliances, instruments and meters and measurement monitoring products, power tools and electric wires and cables, and also include all their components, parts and consumables.

All categories of products are listed below:

A. 1 Computer Products

a)  Whole Computer Products

b)  Computer Network Products

c)  Peripheral Equipment of Computers

d)  Auxiliary Products and Consumables of Computers

e)  Computer Application Products

f)  Office Equipment and Information Products


A. 2 Telecom Equipment

a) Telecom Transmission Equipment

b) Telecom Exchange Equipment

c) Telecom Terminal Equipment

d) Mobile Telecom Equipment and Mobile Telecom Terminal Equipment

e) Other Telecom Equipment


A. 3 Video and Audio Products and Radio and Television Equipment

a) TV sets

b) Video camera, recorder and laser disk machines

c) Audio products

d) Other electronic video and audio products

e) Radio and television program production, launch and transmission equipment

f) Radio and television program receiving equipment and devices

g) Applied television equipment and other radio and television equipment


A.4 Household Appliance Products

a) Household refrigerating products

b) Household air-conditioning products

c) Household kitchen appliances

d) Household cleaning appliances

e) Household cosmetic and health care appliances

f) Household textile processing and clothes care appliances

g) Household ventilation appliances

h) Other household electric products

i) Sports and relaxation devices and toys


A.5      Instruments and Meters and Measurement Monitoring Products

a) Electrotechnical instruments and meters

b) Electronic measurement instruments

c) Monitoring and control products

d) Drawing, calculation and measurement instruments


A.6      Electric Tools

a) Equipment for processing wood, metal or other materials

b) Tools used for riveting, nailing or screwing up, or removing rivets, nails, screws or similar purposes

c) Tools used for welding or similar purposes

d) Equipment for liquid or gas spray, coating, dispelling or other treatment through other methods

e) Tools used for mowing or other gardening activities


A.7      Wires and Cables

a) Electric wires and cables

b) Optical fiber and optical cables

* * *

The WEEE regulation also overlaps to some extent with the Administrative Measures for the Prevention and Control of Environmental Pollution by Electronic Wastes (effective February 1, 2008).  In the Administrative Measures (Article 25), definitions (although not very helpful ones), are provided for “electronic wastes,” “industrial electronic wastes,” “dangerous electronic wastes,” “dismantling,” and “utilization.”

Administrative Division of Responsibility

Pursuant to Article 4, MEP (in cooperation with NDRC and MIIT) is

  • responsible for organizing the drafting of policies and measures for the recovery and disposal of waste electric and electronic products
  • coordinating the implementation thereof, and
  • responsible for the supervision and administration of the disposal of waste electric and electronic products.

The Ministry of Commerce

  • responsible for the administration of the recovery of waste electric and electronic products.

A permit system is established for “Disposing Enterprises.”  The “departments of the people’s governments of municipalities divided into districts” are responsible for approving the qualifications of enterprises that want to engage in the disposal of waste electric and electronic products.  (Article 6).

The provincial level MEP, NDRC, and MIIT equivalents are to “develop programs for the disposal of waste electric and electronic products for their local regions, and submit the same to the department of the State Council in charge of environmental protection for record filing.”  (Article 21).

Covered Entities

China WEEE primarily regulates the activities of (1) manufacturers and importers (and their consignees) and (2) Disposing Entities. 2

1. Manufactures and Importers

Manufacture and Labeling

Article 10 provides that manufactures and importers of electric and electronic products shall

  • manufacture or import electric and electronic products that comply with State regulations on electric and electronic product pollution control,
  • apply design plans that are conducive to comprehensive resource utilization and harmless recovery treatment,
  • utilize materials that are nontoxic, non-hazardous or of low toxicity or low hazard or that are convenient for recovery, and
  • provide information concerning toxic or hazardous substance content, appropriate methods with respect to recovery and disposal, etc. on electric and electronic products or product manuals (if appropriate labels are missing, and order to make correction will be issued and a fine of “less than” 50,000 RMB may be imposed (Article 27)).

The second and third  points could conceivably mean to apply China RoHS Phase II-like requirements to China WEEE covered products, but we will need to wait for further clarification and standards, the final bullet point is similar to the China RoHS labeling requirements, but again we will need some clarification.


Manufacturers are “encouraged” to “recover waste electric and electronic products independently or through their distributors, repair organs, after-sale service organs, or entities that engage in waste electric and electronic product recovery,” with any waste products recovered being disposed of at qualified Disposing Enterprise sites. (Article 11)

Fund Payment

The primary recovery and disposal obligation of manufactures and importers is to contribute to the State fund which will be used to “fund for the disposal of waste electric and electronic products”  (Article 7).  Details as to how the fund will be administered and structured and how the amount of the fund payment required to be made by any given manufacturer or importer will be determined have not been announced. 

2. Disposing Enterprises:

There are a number of provisions (Articles 6, 14-19, 22-25, 31, 32, 34) that address the obligations of “Disposing Enterprises.”  On the assumption that not many CELB readers will be interested in becoming Disposing Enterprises (DE), I have not summarized those provision here.  If you do want to become a DE, by all means let me know, and we can review the requirements of China WEEE and the Administrative Measures for the Prevention and Control of Environmental Pollution by Electronic Wastes.

Effective Date

There is plenty of time to develop the Catalogue and issue the necessary clarifications, standards, and implementing provisions; these regulation do not become effective until January 1, 2011 (Article 35).

  1. As Dayton Carpenter has pointed out, “collection” is perhaps a better English translation of 回收 than is “recovery.”  Another way to look at it is to think of the concept of both recovering (or taking back) an item from its purchaser and then collecting or aggregating it with other items for ultimate transit to a “Disposing Enterprise.”
  2. A few provisions (Articles 11 and 12) impose minor obligations upon operators engaged in recovery, product distributors, repair organs, and after-sale service organs, and those that sell products “after repair and restoration.”

Tags: China WEEE

6 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Adam Minter // Apr 9, 2009 at 7:24 am

    There are two purposes to this legislation. One, obviously, is to set up a modern e-waste recycling system for China. The second, related and more important, is to provide China with a clean alternative to the notorious, toxic e-waste dumps in South China, most notably Guiyu. Right now, Guiyu-style processing is the only game in town, if you will, partly because the methods used down there are so much more profitable than those that might be used in cleaner, higher-tech facilities with high overhead, big tech investments, etc. According to folks whom I spoken to, and have a direct role in filling in the Chinese WEEE’s “blanks,” the gap between the two is going to be closed by subsidizing the cleaner version. Once that system is in place, Beijing will feel comfortable enough shutting down the “workshop” style e-waste processing facilities. In fact, there’s a plan to turn Guiyu into a clean, high-tech e-waste processing center.

  • 2 cmcelwee // Apr 9, 2009 at 3:26 pm

    Adam: Thanks so much for your comments! No one would know these issues better that you, and it is great to get the broader policy perspectives and intent behind these regulations. I must direct readers to your invaluable site for more of your insights:

  • 3 Greener China // Apr 10, 2009 at 2:05 am


    Quick clarification - what does WEEP say about condition of the product. Could a sub assembled/ half torn apart item circumvent this?

    Could a router broken into 100 pieces legally be imported around this law, or do you see the reading as being any electronic product in any stage of completion?

    Also - who is the enforcer, and what powers will they have to act on illegal operations? Any insights there?


  • 4 cmcelwee // Apr 10, 2009 at 2:58 pm

    Hi Rich: This particular regulation does not specifically address the products that are covered. We are going to have to wait for the Catalogue to be developed. It’s possible the Catalogue could say “a router or any of its component parts.” This particular regulation doesn’t add any new import restrictions, but simply notes that “[a]ny waste electric and electronic products that are prohibited from import by the State should not be imported.” (Article 9).

    As to the enforcers, where an enterprise engages in the disposal of WEEE without the necessary permit, the local SAIC “shall impose a [penalty thereon pursuant to the Procedures for Investigating, Handling, and Closing Down Unlicensed Business Operations.” I haven’t looked at these reg’s. but I assume they give the authorities to right to shut the facility down and impose penalties (although I suspect not particularly high ones).

  • 5 Christie // Jun 25, 2009 at 10:46 pm

    Article 10 in regard to hazardous substance, “国家有关电器电子产品污染控制的规定”, why not quoting “Measures for Administration of the Pollution Control of Electronic Information Products”?? Is there another RoHS for EEE??

  • 6 cmcelwee // Jun 29, 2009 at 3:28 pm

    @Christie: Good question. These regulations were in draft form for so long, I think they just forgot to update and cross-reference the draft after the enactment of the China RoHS regulation. I don’t think the rules contemplate a separate WEEE labeling system, at least where covered products are already subject to RoHS requirements.

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