Hazardous Chemicals New Strategies for Phasing out Hazardous Chemicals from IT Products

Editor: Dominik Stephan

Hazradous materials used IT and communication devices cause much concern, especially when it come to the subject of waste treatment. Now, a Swedish organisation has proposed a new strategy for the phasing out of this materials.

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Smartphones and laptops are often produced with toxic or otherwise hazardous substances.
Smartphones and laptops are often produced with toxic or otherwise hazardous substances.
(Picture: Unsplash (CC0))

Stockhol/Sweden – TCO Development has issued new draft criteria for the IT product sustainability certification TCO Certified. One of the major changes in the new generation criteria set is a new approach to reducing hazardous substance content in computers, displays and other electronic devices.

Moving away from focusing on banned substances alone, the draft proposes the addition of a list of permitted substances that are declared safe for use. The draft is open for comments until May 19, 2015.

Green Screen and “White Lists” help industry choose safer chemicals

Beginning in the 1990s, TCO Development has, through the TCO Certified program, contributed to the phasing out of heavy metals and hazardous halogenated flame retardants from IT products. While that effort continues, the new draft TCO Certified also takes a closer look at the substances replacing these hazardous, largely banned materials. The draft recommends the phase out of hazardous, non-halogenated flame retardants.

By using the Green Screen for Safer Chemicals benchmarking tool, developed by Clean Production Action, industry will more easily be able to identify substances that can safely replace those that have been proven hazardous to the environment and human health.

Transparency is Key when Handling Hazardous Substances

Emma Nolte, Environmental Specialist at TCO Development, comments: “We’re striving for greater transparency in the IT-industry and by ‘black listing’ and ‘white listing’ substances we hope to increase knowledge and reduce data gaps about the chemicals in our IT products. This first step with non-halogenated flame retardants will help us analyze the effect of these substances and help industry take further steps toward toxic-free products”.

Phthalates, commonly used as plasticizers in cables, is another group of substances that has shown to be a hormone disruptor and to have negative reproductive effects. The new draft TCO Certified also proposes to ban four phthalates that exhibit these hazardous qualities.