NOVEMBER 2009

Suppliers are removing chlorine and bromine-based substances from electronics

Two leading nonprofit environmental organizations, ChemSec and Clean Production Action, announced a new precedent-setting research report on companies that lead the electronics industry by moving away from chemicals that can lead to health and environmental problems. The report, “Greening Consumer Electronics: Moving Away from Bromine and Chlorine,” features seven companies who have engineered environmental solutions that negate the need for most – or in some cases all – uses of brominated and chlorinated chemicals.

The full report along with other background materials and photos can be found at www.cleanproduction.org and www.chemsec.org on October 6.

High volume uses of bromine and chlorine in flame retardant and plastic resin applications such as brominated flame retardants (BFRs) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) gained worldwide attention when scientific studies demonstrated their link to the formation of highly toxic dioxin compounds. Dioxin, a potent human carcinogen that is toxic in very low amounts, along with other problematic compounds, are unintentionally released into the environment during the burning and smelting of electronic waste.

The current recycling and waste infrastructure to safely reuse and recycle obsolete equipment is insufficient for the fastest growing waste stream in the world.

The following seven companies featured in this report demonstrate best industry practices and provide critical guidance for the development of environmentally robust and sound industry-wide standards and policies.

Apple – Apple established an innovative program that restricts the use of nearly all bromine and chlorine compounds across all their product lines. As such, Apple now offers a wide range of PVC and BFR-free consumer products including iPhones and iPods, as well as computers that are free of BFRs and most uses of PVC.

Sony Ericsson (UK) – Sony Ericsson is not only removing substances of concern from their products, but also taking on the complicated task of establishing full chemical inventories for all their product lines. The company’s products are now 99.9 percent BFR-free and will have no PVC components by the end of 2009.

Seagate – The largest disk drive manufacturer in the world is now creating new disk drives that no longer use chlorine- and bromine-based chemistries. This success was largely facilitated by the company’s full material disclosure system.

DSM Engineering Plastics (Netherlands) – This major plastic material manufacturer is among the first to offer a complete portfolio of engineering plastics that are free of bromine and chlorine. They developed and produced a new high temperature polyamide 4T polymer with bromine-free grades for connectors and sockets as well as a thermoplastic co-polyester that can be used as a replacement for PVC-based wire and cables.

Nan Ya (Taiwan) and Indium – Nan Ya, a major laminate manufacturer, and Indium, a high-end manufacturer of solder paste and flux, both overcame major technical challenges to produce bromine and chlorine-free components for printed circuit boards that met the same reliability standards of their halogenated counter parts.

Silicon Storage Technology, Inc. – This semiconductor manufacturer was the first in the industry to supply Apple and others with bromine-free chips.

The report was produced independently and did not receive funding from any commercial entities.