Suppliers are removing chlorine and bromine-based substances
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.
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
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.