Chemical Industry in China

Safety Rules for Handling Chemicals in China

Either if you are interested in buying Chemicals in China or starting your own company operating in this sector in the PRC, you must be aware of the importance of complying with the current rules and regulations at the national and the international level. Nevertheless, this can become a tedious and frustrating task when you come across laws that are only written in Chinese, ambiguous guidelines or simply, the lack of transparency of the governing bodies.

But do not worry, thanks to Camachem’s experience in the sector, we have gathered all the information needed to operate safely and legally in China. If you want to learn everything you need to know to start handling chemicals in China, please, keep on reading.

Along this blog we will be talking about the main governing regulations on handling and trading with hazardous chemicals in China as well as the laws that legislate over this matter. Firstly we will talk about Decree 591 which is the main law governing handling chemicals. Then we find SAWS order nº53 which gives measures on the registration of hazardous chemicals. Finally, MEE Order nº12 and MEP Order nº22 establishes a registration system for chemicals and a risk assessment system as well.

Main Rule on Handling Hazardous Chemicals in China

Chemical Industry Workers Handling Chemicals in China 

Chemical Industry Workers Handling Chemicals 

The guidelines when handling hazardous chemicals in China are stated in Regulations on the Safe Management of Hazardous Chemicals in China (Decree 591). On March 11, 2011, the State Council of China issued a revised version of this regulation:

  • The rule, which includes provisions for the manufacture, storage, import, use, sale, and transportation of hazardous chemicals, went into effect on December 1, 2011, and superseded the previous version published in 2002.
  • This legislation has 102 articles, numerous supporting measures, and several national standards. This law's implementation is being overseen by more than eight Chinese government agencies.
  • It is the primary law in China that governs the use of existing chemicals. It is also the primary law governing GHS implementation in China. GHS stands for Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals and it is a system created by the UN for classifying chemicals according to the hazards they possess.
  • Its goal is to provide a foundation for the harmonization of chemical laws and regulations at the national, regional, and global levels, which is also vital for trade facilitation.
  • Presidential Decree 591 is China's most stringent chemical control law, regulating hazardous chemicals across the whole supply chain, from manufacturing and importation through distribution and storage, transit, and usage. It establishes the following:
  • Requires enterprises in China that handle hazardous chemicals to apply for operating licenses called as “license system”. There are three types of licenses: production, operating and safe use.
  • Also, businesses must submit HazChem registrations to two ministries separately which is known to be “HazChem registration”.
  • Regarding the institutions responsible for inspections, it is the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ)’s duty to perform such examinations to all exported and imported goods. They will make sure the packaging meets the required standards, the chemical has the right labeling, absence of leaks and tight seals mainly.

Chemical Management Laws in China 

The chemical management laws in China specialized in the management of hazardous chemicals are the following:

  • SAWS Order nº53 regarding registration,
  • nº41 covering manufacture
  • nº55 in sales and storage
  • nº57 regarding safe use.

The updated Measures for the Administration of Hazardous Chemicals Registration (SAWS Order 53) were released in July 2012 and went into effect on August 1, 2012. The rule is published in line with Decree 591, articles 66 and 67, and sets forth comprehensive requirements for HazChem registrations with the State Administration of Work Safety (SAWS).

  • According to SAWS Order 53, domestic makers and importers must register hazardous chemicals with SAWS's National Registration Center of Chemicals (NRCC) prior to manufacturing or importation.
  • In comparison to previous measures, it triggered additional importer requirements and needed more specific danger data from firms for registration, as well as a 24-hour emergency contact number.

Safe Chemical Handling in Chinese Company

Safety Monitoring in Chemical Plant 

Chinese Chemical and Environmental Rules

The environmental rules regarding chemical handling in China are stated in the MEP Orders. MEP Orders are Provisions on Environmental Administration of New Chemical Substances.

  • The 1st of January of 2021 came into force the MEE Order nº12. This new legislation substitutes the previous MEP Order nº7 (2010). It establishes the following dispositions:
    • Firstly, it enhances the management of chemical compounds that are persistent (P), bio accumulative (B), and toxic (T).
    • According to this classification, the MEE will not approve a novel chemical that fits all three requirements — P, B, and T. If it meets two of the criteria – PB, BT, or PT – it may be permitted, but only under certain conditions, such as annual reporting and inclusion in the Inventory of Existing Chemical Substances (IECSC) with usage limits.
    • The MEE Order requires new substances and new uses to be notified. In the case a new hazardous substance is added, it must specify its uses. Any company that wants to make, use, or import the material for a new (non-specified) use must submit a new chemical substance notification for new use management
  • The trial Measures for Environmental Administration Registration of Hazardous Chemicals (MEP Order 22) was issued by China MEP in Oct 2012 and came into force on 1 March 2013. This regulation is the MEP's version of HazChem registration in China, and it is promulgated in line with Article 6 of Decree 591.
    • China MEP released the trial Measures for Environmental Administration Registration of Hazardous Chemicals (MEP Order 22) in October 2012, and it went into effect on March 1, 2013. This regulation is the MEP's version of HazChem registration in China, and it is promulgated in line with Article 6 of Decree 591.

Chinese Chemical Industry Researcher Handling Chemical

Chemical Industry Researcher in China

International Regulations for Handling Chemicals

Finally, due to the immediate degree of risk created by incorrect product mishandling/packing, the United Nations (UN) Committee of Experts on the Transport of Dangerous Goods has developed three types of packaging for all dangerous and non-dangerous substances. These are some of the categories:

  1. X - Packing Group I: for chemicals with a high potential for causing harm.
  2. Y - Packing Group II: for chemicals with a medium hazard potential.
  3. Z - Packing Group III: for chemicals with a minimal risk of causing harm. 
    As a result of these groupings, the committee created a new (UN marking system) that gives information on the degree of quality each packaging unit possesses, as well as the type of chemicals due to their dangerous features.

Now it is your turn to start operating in China according to these regulations. In this blog we have covered China’s internal regulation regarding new substances (MEP order) and Hazardous chemicals (SAWS order). If you still need more information regarding practices in handling chemicals,  

If you would like to buy high quality chemicals from the best suppliers in China, Camachem will be delighted to help you throughout the process thanks to our vast experience in the procurement sector. Do not hesitate to contact us now!