Greenpeace is lobbying for the Chinese government to draw up a priority list of hazardous chemicals for reduction, restriction and eventual phase out. We are also working for complete environmental information disclosure: we want a database of all chemicals currently in use, including their emission data, to be made available to the public.
Chemicals Calling for Priority Action
China is currently using over 45,000 chemicals, according to a 2009 government inventory, but no regulatory schemes exist for these substances, many of which are potentially hazardous.
To identify the most hazardous chemicals, Greenpeace compared the inventory against six lists of hazardous chemicals. Identifying the chemicals requiring priority action is one of the first urgent steps that regulatory agencies and industries need to take to curb pollution, protect public health and the environment, and better prepare for increasing global regulations on chemicals.
You can view our analysis here.
A Stronger Law For Electronic Waste
New Chinese laws aim to eliminate hazardous chemicals in electronics, as well as increase producer responsibility for the take back and recycling of obsolete electronics.
After years of Greenpeace campaigning against e-waste, on February 28, 2006, the Chinese government released a new regulation aimed at reducing or eliminating the use of hazardous chemicals in electronics products. The regulation, titled “Measures for the Control of Pollution from Electronic Information Products,” took effect on Marcy 1, 2007. It bans lead, mercury, cadmium, hexavalent chromium, polybrominated biphenyls and polybrominated diphenyl ether, as well as other toxic substances as “specified by the state”. The law covers a wide range of electronics products, as well as their packaging and labeling.
In March of 2009 the Chinese government released the “Regulation on the Administration of the Recovery and Disposal of Waste Electrical and Electronic Products”. The regulation took effect on January 1, 2011.
This policy made considerable progress in China’s previously inadequate e-waste disposal laws. It established that electronics manufacturers should take full responsibility for their products, including for its disposal at the end of its lifetime, and also called for the use of less non-toxic or less hazardous chemicals to make recycling easier. However, the regulation lacks specific requirements for recycling processes and techniques, which are crucial to prevent pollution.
A more transparent Shenyang
Information transparency and environmental information disclosure are new concepts in China. With Greenpeace’s help and lobbying, in May 2008, the environmental protection bureau of Shenyang issued China’s first regulation on the detailed implementation of environmental information disclosure. The regulation is called “Detailed Rules in Implementing Environment Protection Information Disclosure.” Residents of Shenyang, a city in northeastern China, can now access information on industrial air and water pollution.
For a look at our most recent toxics work, check out the news section.