Welcome to the March 2021 Design Chain Associates E-mail Newsletter!
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I meant to get this out to you early last month but it's been a busy time. Now there's even more to cover!
You would think that after 15 years of being in force the electronics supply chain, in aggregate, would have a better understanding of the EU RoHS Directive. While the major manufacturers, for the most part, do have a good and solid understanding, smaller ones - along with much of the supply chain and some major contract manufacturers - still do not seem to grasp many aspects of it. And having little experience with other New Legislative Framework Directives, many people who are responsible for RoHS compliance could use an introduction to it as well.
So I want to make sure you know that the two eLearning courses I developed for Chemical Watch are now available:
If you, or your new colleague who is suddently thrust into the role of RoHS ownership, need a solid introduction to RoHS and/or the NLF, these are the courses to take.
And as always, feel free to give me any feedback you have on them!
If you have read the US Toxic Substance Control Act (TSCA) as revised by the Lautenberg Safe Chemicals Act of 2016, you know that it has a newfound capacity to impact articles and can more readily restrict or ban substances than it has had in the past. That capacity came quickly and seemingly without notice to the electronics industry. On January 6 the EPA passed final rules banning or restricting five substances, most with only 60 days notice. Now, the EPA had believed they had been in communication with all the industries that were using these substances over the past few years so they - and the industry stakeholders - felt that 60 days notice was acceptable for such an action. Unfortunately this was not the case for at least one of these substances: flame retardant/plasticizer phenol, isopropylated phosphate (3:1) (PIP (3:1)). Another, decabromodiphenyl ether (DecaBDE), now banned by the Stockholm Convention, has been effectively eliminated from well-controlled electronics supply chains since it was (finally) restricted by the EU RoHS Directive in 2008 (via the EU Court of Justice's annulment of Commission Decision 2005/717/EC).
On the evening of March 8, last night, the EPA issued a press release announcing that it had reopened its stakeholder comment period for 60 days to gather more information from the now-aware electronics industry (and perhaps others), as well as "issuing a temporary 180-day 'No Action Assurance' indicating that the agency will exercise its enforcement discretion regarding the prohibitions on processing and distribution of PIP (3:1) for use in articles, and the articles to which PIP (3:1) has been added".
So manufacturers can continue to sell products containin PIP (3:1) but if you are not aware of whether this flame retardant/plasticizer for PVC is used in what you sell in the US I urge you to prioritize an inquiry to relevant suppliers.
Bottom line: pay attention to TSCA.
The European Commission has proposed a dramatic update of the Battery Directive. In 158 pages of text and annexes, the proposal drives a dramatic shift in how this commodity will be managed throughout its lifecycle. Extraordinary requirements for supply base qualification and management along with new technical and sustainability-related performance criteria, particularly for automotive and other very high capacity batteries, says a lot about how much expertise the Commission has and how willing they are to force industry action.
This, along with expansion of the EcoDesign Directive's scope, demonstrates the European Commission's determination to implement its sustainability and circular economy agenda in the electronics space. While the electronics industry is huge and important, our understanding and implementation to date of sustainability and circularity is limited at best.
See my current TTI MarketEYE column for more information on the proposal.
Another issue my current TTI MarketEYE column covers is the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment's (OEHHA) proposed update to the Proposition 65 short-form warning. At meetings and workshops I've attended over the past few years OEHHA personnel have told me of their dismay with its use, and the notice itself says as much: "there has been widespread use of short-form warnings in ways that were not intended and do not further the purposes of Proposition 65."
OEHHA intended for the short-form warning to be used where the long-form would be inappropriate or wouldn't fit. The current legal language does not implement these intentions or limit its use so OEHHA is making dramatic changes to the short-form warning. Public comment will be open through March 29, and a public hearing will be held on March 11.
Scheduled for June 14-18 as a virtual conference with a very low registration fee, the 25th Annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference will be very exciting! This year our session is called "Sustainable Production & Circularity in the Electronics Supply Chain" and will include presentations from major electronics industry players, an important standards body as well as academics and an environmental NGO.
Catch-up on past DCA newsletters on our DCA In The News web page!
March 1, 2021 Bloomberg Environment & Energy: Electronics Makers Plead for Pause in EPA Toxic Chemical Ban (1). The electronics industry feels the sting of TSCA for the first time in over a generation and neither the EPA nor the industry are prepared for it.
February 23, 2021 TTI MarketEYE: Major Changes to EU's Battery Directive; California's Prop 65 Warning Gets an Update. The Battery Directive goes circular while the Prop 65 Short-Form warning gets longer.
February 14, 2021 EE Times: Standards as a Circularity Checklist Starting Point Don't boil the ocean: start with what has already been done.
June 14-18, 2021: Virtual! 25th Annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference. DCA co-chairs a session on Sustainable Production and Circularity in the Electronics Supply Chain.
More to come! Stay tuned.
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