China plans to optimize environmental management of chemicals through the implementation of a single overarching chemical regulation which would specify the broad compliance requirements for chemicals throughout their lifecycle and throughout the supply chain. To support this China will also implement two new systems of risk assessment and control, establish and improve 6 systems related to chemical registration, testing etc. Major focuses and tasks are also detailed.
Mr. Qiu Qiwen, the head of the Solid Waste and Chemical Division of China’s MEE, made an address on “China’s Working Plans for the Environmental Management of Chemical Substances” at the 14th POPs (Persistent Organic Pollutants) Forum and Chemical Environmental Safety Meeting. Mr Qiu’s address was divided into three parts: Basic principles, progresses and problems and working plans.
According to Mr Qiu, the purpose of environmental management of chemical substances is to manage the environmental and health risks of chemical substances, and it mainly focuses on the chemical substances which are persistent, bioaccumulative and with high hazards, or those which might exist in the environment for a long period of time. The environmental management of hazardous chemicals will mainly focus on CMR substances (carcinogenic, mutagenic or reproductive toxic), these chemical substances have strong hidden hazards, and profound impacts on environment and human health.
The main tasks for environmental management of chemical substances:
- Understand and grasp the situations of environmental management of chemical substances
- Assess and recognize the risks of chemical substances
- Prevent the risks of chemical substances effectively (for those chemical substances whose risks cannot be controlled, they should be prohibited or restricted
The environmental management of chemical substances is different from safe production management, public health management and air/water/ solid waste management. Safe production management is to manage chemical substances with hazardous properties, such as inflammable, explosive and highly corrosive properties, etc. Public health management is mainly to manage disease control and health supervision. Air and water pollution preventions focus on controlling the emissions of stationary source pollutants to environment, and solid waste pollution prevention focuses on standardizing the production and collective activities of solid waste, in order to ensure the harmless disposal and usage of the solid wastes. However, the environmental management of chemical substances highlights the risk assessment and control of chemicals throughout their lifecycle, supply chain and chemical substance chain of custody.
Progresses & Problems
The major working progresses of China’s environmental management of chemical substances are listed below:
- Had the registration of new chemical substances and prevented the new chemical substances with unreasonable risks entering into China’s economic society. (Relevant details and latest changes of the registration of new chemical substances can be found on the draft revision of MEP Order 7, see CL News, CL article  and CL E-Translation)
- Conducted the environmental management registration for the import and export of toxic chemicals, companies who engage in the import/export of the toxic chemicals shall apply in advance for corresponding registration certifications of environmental management from competence authorities. (see CL E-Translation )
- Conducted environmental risk assessment and control of existing chemicals. The competent authorities released the first batch of China’s Catalogue of Priority Chemicals , implemented the measures of having clean production, standard emission and permit system of pollutant discharge, etc. and reduced the emission of toxic and hazardous pollutants (by launching more than 100 emission standards which concerning hundreds of chemical substances), and urged relevant authorities to implement stricter management and control measures for chemicals whose risks cannot be controlled by regular environmental managing measures.
- Approved and implemented the international conventions, for example the Stockholm Convention, and established the compliance coordination mechanism and phase out of chemical substances.
- Highlighted the information disclosure, and required companies who engage in the production of toxic and hazardous raw materials and emission of toxic and hazardous substances to disclose the information of their usage and emission of toxic and hazardous raw materials.
Currently, China’s environmental management of chemical substances still faces problems relating to unsound laws and legislation, imperfect mechanisms and capacity bottlenecks, etc. There is a big disparity between China and other developed countries in the legislation of environmental management of chemical substances.
China’s environmental management of chemical substances is vital to improve China’s environment. The working plans of China’s environmental management of chemical substances are as follows:
- To implement one regulation, the relevant authorities shall complete the work of the Draft Regulation on Chemical Substances Environmental Risk Assessment and Control for public comments (CL News ), and accelerate the implementation of the regulation.
- To establish two systems of risk assessment and control. (China has already published the Draft Regulation on Chemical Substances Environmental Risk Assessment and Control on Jan 8th 2018, and more details related to the two systems of risk assessment and control can be assessed here )
- To establish and improve 6 systems
- Environmental management registration system for new chemical substances
- Environmental management registration system for toxic chemicals severely restricted for import and export
- Chemical substances risk management system for priority environmental management: source management-process control-pollution control
- Basic information reporting system of chemical substances
- Supervision and testing system of chemical substances’ testing data qualities
- Investigation and checking system of chemical substances storage
- To accomplish 5 major tasks
- Conduct environmental risk assessment of chemical substances
- Implement environmental risk management and control of chemical substances for priority environmental management
- Standardize the work of relevant administrative approval of chemical substances
- Implement the compliance tasks and improve long-term mechanism for compliance coordination
- Strengthen the exchange and cooperation communication with foreign countries on environmental management of chemical substances
- To enhance 3 foundations
- Informatization----the establishment of hazardous and exposure data recording and dissemination systems
- Standardization----the technical standard system establishment of risk assessment and control
- Professionalization----the professionalization of technical and managing talents.
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