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Starting August 13th this year, and March 1 of next year, the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) directive and Restriction on Hazardous Substances (RoHS) directive will come into effect respectively.

According to WEEE, manufacturers will be responsible for handling the waste created by discarded electrical appliances. The RoHS directive states that electrical and electronic equipment with curtain amount of various heavy metals like lead and mercury are not allowed to put on the market.

China exported U.S. $380 billion worth of electronic products to EU countries last year, which is about a quarter of China's total exports. Some economists say the directives will lead to a $10-billion loss for China.

With only 4 months to go, time is short. Some of the largest electronic producers and exporters in China have already been alerted and taken actions to meet the greener house standards.

As the most renowned and strongest home appliance manufacturers in China, Haier is actively facing the challenges. According to one Haier spokesman. "We will set a standard by the end of the year to meet their environment requirements."

However, for many medium and small companies, the standards are definitely barriers and will surely decide the future of the industry.

"Both standards will increase the production and running cost of domestic manufacturers," explained Liu Fuzhong, vice chairman of the China Home Appliance Association. "If the enterprise is a big and strong one in every process of manufacturing, it will have the ability to consume the price increase brought by the two standards. But those small and medium ones are not capable enough to deal with the change, and they face bigger challenges."

Large OEMs will be better-positioned to create recycling systems than small and mid tier companies. But for the industry, experts are not worried.

According to Lu Renbo, a representative from the economic research center under the State Council: "The standards are good for the industry, and in the long run they will do good to the environment. It will help to optimize the structure of industry by failing some small and low tech ones."

Liu Fuzhong agrees: "They will help to decrease environmental pollution, and save more resources in an efficient way. I think soon relevant laws and regulations will be issued to meet the environmental requirements."

According to reports, many EU member countries like Britain, Germany, France, Spain, and Italy, accounting for 80 percent of electronics waste in Europe, are currently hammering out their draft laws. (

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