‘Voluntary’ requirements similar to EU REACH Annex XVII provisions
China is introducing a voluntary standard that will restrict the use of 117 hazardous substances in consumer items in a similar way to restrictions under EU REACH Annex XVII.
The Guidelines for Controlling the Use of Key Chemical Substances in Consumer Products are set to come into force on 1 June.
It will apply to all consumer products, including their components, parts, accessories, instructions and packaging. But it will not apply to goods that are regulated separately, such as food, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics.
While the standard is currently voluntary, an industry source who wished to remain anonymous told Chemical Watch that “companies – especially leading companies – are expected to follow them”.
Despite the title of ‘guidelines’, the State Administration for Market Regulation and the China National Standardization Administration published the document as a voluntary national technical standard – GB/T 39498-2020 – on 20 November.
The final version adds 14 hazardous substances to the list outlined in the 2017 draft version, bringing the total to 117. Most of the additional substances are those that will be restricted in toys and include:
polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs);
The Guidelines outline the safety requirements for each substance and the migration limits for specific products, including:
They also indicate on which national or international regulations the restrictions are modelled, for example, other Chinese standards or EU REACH.
When the draft version was published in March 2017, Eric Zhu, APAC regulatory supervisor for consultancy Intertek, told Chemical Watch that “the Guidelines will reduce what are effectively trade barriers, based on lack of compliance with regulations in overseas markets. They will also allow clear, transparent market regulation and inform product development, innovation and safety control for industry”.
The final standard also includes analytical methods in Appendix A that companies can use to determine the contents of hazardous substances in consumer products.
Chemical Watch, 21 January 2021