China releases chemical risk management action plan – The National Law Review | Region & Cash

On May 24, 2022, China’s State Council released an Action Plan to Regulate New Pollutants (“Plan”) to establish a regulatory roadmap to control new chemicals and outline an enhanced enforcement framework for compliance. The plan provides a framework, which will be developed through future decrees and regulations, for an environmental risk management system for chemicals and the integration and expansion of China’s existing chemical regulatory programs. It also encourages local governments to adopt a risk assessment system and publish local control plans, rules and standards for handling key chemicals to complement the regulatory programs established in the plan.

Businesses that manufacture chemicals, import chemicals, use chemicals in their production, and any facility that releases or emits the new pollutants, as well as businesses that manufacture or import toys, school supplies, and essential consumer goods are likely to be directly or indirectly affected by this new one timetable.

background

According to the Chinese Ministry of Ecology and Environment (“MEE”), new pollutants refer to “toxic and hazardous chemicals with the characteristics of biological toxicity, environmental persistence, bioaccumulation, etc., which pose major risks to the environment or human health, but have not been included in environmental management or Existing management measures are not sufficient.” See the transcript of the monthly MEE press conference in March 2022. The exact scope of the new pollutants covered by this roadmap will be clarified in the upcoming lists.

“New pollutant governance” was first announced in the proposals of the Communist Party of China Central Committee for formulating the Fourteenth Five-Year Plan for National Economic and Social Development and Long-Term Goals for 2035. The outline of the Fourteenth Five-Year Plan for National Economic and Social Development and Long-Term Goals for 2035 confirmed the importance of a new pollutant policy and the need to improve environmental risk management for toxic and hazardous chemicals. The aim of strengthening the new pollution policy was further emphasized by the State Council in its statements on deepening the fight against pollution prevention and control in 2021 and in the report on the government’s work in 2022.

In November 2021, the MEE drafted the public comment action plan (with only a very short comment window) and later submitted it to the State Council for approval. On May 4th, the State Council finalized the plan and published it on May 24th.

The central theses

As a policy document, the plan sets out key operational objectives for the management and control of emerging pollutants. In particular, according to the plan, by 2025:

  • chemicals of concern with high production (consumption) volumes are scanned and assessed for their environmental risks;

  • Lists of key new pollutants under control are published dynamically;

  • Bans or restrictions on production/sale/import/use of key new chemicals are implemented; and

  • Emission and discharge restrictions for important new pollutants will be introduced.

To this end, 17 types of measures are taken, which have a significant impact on manufacturers, processors, importers of chemicals, as well as any facility releasing or discharging the new pollutants. It will also affect manufacturers and importers of certain products, e.g. B. toys, school supplies and consumer goods.

The most important measures are summarized below:

  1. The focus is on four types of new pollutants:

    1. persistent organic pollutants,

    2. endocrine disruptors,

    3. antibiotics and

    4. microplastics.

  2. Manufacturers, processors and importers of the chemicals, as well as entities emitting and discharging these new pollutants, would likely be subject to the new environmental risk management system for pollutants. This system consists of an environmental information collection system for chemicals, an environmental investigation and monitoring system for new pollutants, an environmental risk assessment system for chemicals and a new control system for major pollutants.

    1. The Environmental Information System for Chemicals is used to collect basic information about chemicals, such as: B. Types, amounts and uses of the chemicals. Detailed information on manufacture, processing, use, discharge volume and routes, and hazard characteristics is expected to be disclosed for chemicals subject to priority environmental risk management.

    2. The new pollutant environmental investigation and monitoring system is intended to expand the existing monitoring network to new pollutants. Key areas, industries and industrial parks will set up monitoring points, and the new pollutants in groundwater will be investigated and monitored through the relevant standards.

    3. The environmental risk assessment system for chemicals will focus on environmental and health hazard testing and risk screening for chemicals of high concern, high production (use), high environmental detection rate and distributed use. A prioritized chemical environmental risk assessment plan and a list of chemicals subject to prioritized control are dynamically generated.

    4. To manage the key new chemicals identified through the assessment, a list of key new pollutants subject to control will be established and a “One Product, One Control Action” policy will be implemented. Chemicals subject to prioritized control, antibiotics and microplastics are included in the list. The new chemicals that are included in the list are subject to production/use bans or restrictions and/or emission control requirements.

  3. Manufacturers and processors of new chemicals or emitters and dischargers of new pollutants are classified as significant dischargers. You are requested:

    1. Take environmental protection measures to meet relevant pollutant discharge standards and environmental quality target requirements;

    2. obtain a pollutant discharge permit to specify the implemented pollution control standards and pollution control measures;

    3. carry out regular environmental monitoring of the points of sale and their surroundings and assess environmental risks;

    4. Disclosing information about the discharge of new pollutants and taking preventive measures.

  4. The use of new chemicals in certain products will be banned or restricted. In particular, the key new chemicals are banned from use in toys and school supplies and must be labeled on key consumer products under the eco-labelling scheme. The existing list of Strictly Restricted Toxic Chemicals will be expanded to include Strictly Restricted Chemicals, which are subject to stricter import and export controls.

What’s next?

The MEE has taken a leading role in drafting regulation on environmental risk management of toxic and hazardous chemicals. Relevant technical standards and rules intended to guide market actors in fulfilling their obligations under the environmental risk management system are expected to be further developed to implement the regulation in the coming years.

What should affected companies do now?

Companies that may be affected by this initiative should proactively engage in the rulemaking process during the public comment period for upcoming regulations through trade associations or other alliances, or directly through comment processes.

Two important ancillary documents (ie a prioritized chemical environmental risk assessment plan and the list of key emerging pollutants subject to control) are due to be released this year.

It would be advisable for chemical manufacturers, processors, importers and dischargers to start by reviewing internal chemical management systems to ensure that all information on potentially affected chemicals and releases and discharges of pollutants is properly recorded and retained.

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