Electronics manufacturers reduce environmental, social impact with labeling

by Joe Longo, on April 7, 2016

Screen_Shot_2016-04-06_at_8.40.38_AMThe adoption of the Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive in the European Union has led to the widespread restriction of six hazardous materials that were previously included more frequently in electronics

The goal of this regulation was not only to reduce the risk of exposure among consumers, but also to increase the rate by which consumer electronics are safely recycled.

The industry has responded to the RoHS by improving product traceability and using electronics labeling to indicate compliance. But this is only the tip of the iceberg. RoHS is closely related to many other material regulations, such as those that seek to limit the use of conflict minerals. These are materials that are mined in areas of severe armed conflict, and whose sales are used to fund the groups that carry out this violence. Tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold are the most widely recognized conflict minerals.

Manufacturers and suppliers are working hard to prevent these serious issues from playing a role in their processes. For instance, in 2014 Intel announced that all of its microprocessors were conflict-free. This year, the company hopes to ensure that all of its products are free of conflict minerals.

It won't be easy. According to Chemical Watch, many of Intel's suppliers had limited knowledge of the origins of the metals they were providing for microprocessor manufacturing. Tracking them down and selecting new sources where necessary took years.

Growing demand for consumer electronics is also leading to a greater awareness of the environmental and social impact that these products can have. Efforts to properly address these issues have led the industry to take a hard look at how it can improve traceability. Product labeling will play an important role in regulatory compliance, and businesses can use enterprise labeling solutions to adhere to evolving standards and customer demands.

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