Predictions for 2013

For this column, we compiled the top 5 predictions for compliance in 2013 as it will concern members of the Actio Network (and the majority of business persons with industrial concerns). Categories encompass the electronics industry, EPA/TSCA/etc, Power, Air and Water regulations — and tech tools to manage it.

1. Electronics. This is a highly readable and insightful “quick takes” from the editor of Circuits Assembly magazine, Mike Buetow. His six bullet point predictons for 2013 hit the mark, including:

  1. Accelerated migration of manufacturing in North America
  2. Flextronics will purchase significant stakes in RIM (Research In Motion)
  3. Action in the PCB CAD bullpen

Buetow’s six predictions

2. EPA, TSCA, REACH. Bergeson & Campbell published a comprehensive piece, predicting 2013 for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP). An excellent document. Predictions include:

  1. TSCA legislation outlook: dim, with updates unlikely
  2. OPPT will continue leveraging existing TSCA authorities to assess and regulate chemicals
  3. REACH: deadlines as usual

Other topics in the article: Regulation of nanoscale materials, California Safer Consumer Products Regulations, FIFRA/FQPA, rodenticide cancellation, pollinators, Endocrine Disruptor Screening Program (EDSP), Asia forecast: China, Chinese Taipei (Taiwan), Japan, Korea.

Get the EPA / TSCA outlook

3. Software. In the 2013 quality and stewardship arena, expect to see huge strides in technology. Next-generation software engines will solve (examples provided, use links):

  1. Material disclosure and supplier management
  2. GHS document authoring and management
  3. SEC conflict mineral reporting

4. Power companies. This piece includes the top ten predictions for the power industry by the editor of Power magazine. Predictions include:

  1. Kyoto 2 is Dead
  2. Natural Gas Prices Rise 20%
  3. The Carbon Tax Dies

See the top ten

5. EPA: air and water. Over the next two years, EPA will propose and finalize many new and significant rules, particularly under the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts. The pipeline is full, and electric utilities, agricultural operations, the construction and real estate industries, and facilities using large boilers need to pay special attention. Specifically there will be:

Stricter Air Requirements Utility MACT/Mercury Rule, Boiler MACT, and Revised PM2.5 National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for starters.

Stricter Water Requirements  Revisions to the Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations Discharge Permitting Regulations — Particularly, areas like the Chesapeake Bay are implied, where nutrients are believed to be significant contributors to water quality impairment, will see more stringent permitting requirements.

Effluent Guidelines for The Construction and Development Industry  New construction activities can expect more stringent requirements governing stormwater discharges.

Stormwater Discharges from Developed Sites  Expect to see a proposed rule on restrictions on stormwater flow (as opposed to limits on pollutants in stormwater) possibly as early as the summer of 2013.

Effluent Guidelines for Electricity Generating Units  EPA expects rulemaking to address discharges from ash ponds and flue gas desulfurization (FGD) air pollution controls, as well as other power plant waste streams, for power plants. The proposal should be released in the next few months.

Definition of “Waters of the United States”  EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are attempting to develop a proposed rule to clarify which waters are subject to regulation and protected by the Clean Water Act. It is not clear when or if this proposed rule will be published.

by Thomas G. Echikson

Details here

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For reference, a list of EPA forecasted projects

For reference, try browsing the list below to get a predictive view of forecasted projects for 2013.  The information in EPA’s forecast database (link below) is based on the best information available at the time of posting and is intended for prospective contracting planning purposes. Please note that some records in the database contain the statement of work (SOW) from the current contract, which can be interesting.

2013 EPA Project Forecast Database

REACH: 54 New Substances!

Some 54 new substances have been added to the Candidate List under Europe’s REACH regulation. Download the complete list (136 substances) for your records and reference.  (No registration required to download a copy.)

The legal obligations that companies may have resulting from the inclusion of substances in the Candidate List apply to the listed substances on their own, in mixtures or in articles. Producers and importers of articles containing any of the 54 substances included in the Candidate List by December 19, 2012 have six months from December 19 to notify ECHA if both of the following conditions apply: (i) the substance is present in those articles in quantities totalling over one tonne per producer or importer per year and (ii) the substance is present in those articles above a concentration of 0.1% weight by weight.

REACH-SVHC-LIST-DOWNLOAD

Download available here.

There are exemptions from the notification obligation if the substance is already registered for the use or when exposure can be excluded. Information on the notification of substances in articles and related submission tools, as well as a manual with instructions on how to create and submit a notification dossier are available on ECHA´s website. A webform to facilitate the submission of substances in articles notifications is also available. Nevertheless, datasets are also provided for submission of the notifications via REACH-IT. “Silver bullet” technology for REACH and similar material disclosure compliance challenges in a supply chain is also available.

The Candidate List now contains 138 substances.

MSDS Tracking at PCB Chat Today

Today at PCB Chat, Kal Kawar talks MSDS management and environmental regulations.

Participation is free; just remember to sign in to see the chat.

IPC Apex Expo Catch Up

I’ll be taking questions and comments on IPC Apex Expo today from 2 to 3 pm over at PCB Chat.

Also, Kal Kawar will take questions on MSDS tracking and environmental regulations on March 8* from 2 to 3 pm EST.

*The date has changed to March 8 from March 6.

Informational Matrix of Tools for Green Chemistry

Looking for tools to evaluate chemical ingredients in products — for greener chemistry, safer products, a healthier workplace and a more viable supply chain?  Recently GC3 designed and published a matrix of tools for green chemistry and an attendant summary document.

Use the matrix here:  portal database

Some tools listed are free, some are not.  In these matters you typically get what you pay for, but what you want to pay for depends on how big your supply network is and what your sustainability goals are from a product risk management and brand management point of view.

The Green Chemistry and Commerce Council (GC3) is out of the University of Massachusetts, Lowell.  It bills itself as a business-to-business forum that advances the application of green chemistry and design for environment across supply chains.

GC3 has realized, rightly, that many businesses lack the resources to educate themselves about the tools and systems available for managing greener chemistry.  The matrix at the link above will help businesses educate themselves about the choices in tools for evaluating chemical ingredients.  Use it, the matrix is free.

Data safer in the cloud?  Increasing regulatory requirements and consumer and media pressure to sell safer or “green” products are driving retailers to understand more about the chemical ingredients in the products they sell and to find safer alternatives to chemicals of concern. Some retailers are developing their own tools or systems to evaluate the chemical content of the products they buy and sell, which is an arguably short-sighted approach because it lends significant problems with lack of standardization of data, ergo inability or extreme difficulty with reporting and for suppliers who have to add resources to distribute the data.  The alternative is to work with developers of 3rd party evaluation systems to develop customized tools, and others are working collaboratively to develop tools useful to a whole industry sector.

Some think that keeping data “in-house” is safer, but company “proprietary” data is just as easy to hack as is data in the cloud, or data hosted elsewhere.  Viruses and malware occur more often in in-house systems. And data losses are more common (and expensive) in on-premises systems.  So the data-is-safer-in-house point is mute.

In fact, an Aberdeen study recently revealed that data are actually safer in the cloud.  Which means you have more choices, is all; you are no longer tied to your IT team, their capabilities, legacies, politics and budget.  Be free!

Chemical ingredient tool matrix  GC3 says that the tools included in the matrix are either free or commercially available and enable retailers to evaluate chemicals or chemical-containing products for their potential human health and environmental impacts and identify chemicals or materials that are regulated or are of concern and not yet regulated.

Most of the evaluative systems go beyond ensuring compliance with existing environmental regulations and provide additional information to retailers and manufacturers whose goal is to “green” their product lines by selling chemicals and chemical-containing products that are safer throughout the supply chain.

REACH Gets A 5-Year Review

It’s been five years since REACH* was adopted. Now, five years later, the European Commission (EC) is preparing to review the legislation.

The review is expected to be significant but not overwhelming. The EC-led review will be based on “lessons learned” from the implementation of REACH, focusing on the costs and administrative burden and other “impacts on innovation.”REACH regulation The review will include:

    1. Test method costs and spends: an audit of the amount and distribution of funding made available by the EC for the development and evaluation of alternative test methods.
    2. REACH scope: whether to amend REACH scope to avoid overlaps with other EU legislation.
    3. ECHA: a review of the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA).
    4. Lower tonnage substances: a review of registration requirements for lower tonnage substances.

‘So, how’s my driving?’ Originally, REACH sought to test, analyze, categorize and track ~100,000 chemical substances. But since 2006, only a small number of chemicals have actually been reviewed, starting with a list of 47 Substances of Very High Concern (click here for full SVHC list), which are suspected of causing cancer or disturbing the human reproductive system.

“But there are a lot more substances out there,” said Jamie Page from the Cancer Prevention and Education Society, as reported by Euractiv.

Page is calling for the screening process to be accelerated. “Obviously, there are a lot of chemicals on the market – people estimate between 80,000 and 100,000 – so it is like a few down, a lot to go.”

ChemSec, an environmental lobby group, has recently accused the EU of delaying action on “endocrine-disrupting” chemicals such as phthalates, calling on regulators to speed up work. ChemSec wants 378 substances included in the SVHC list. “There are a lot of controversial products,” Page concurred, citing Bisphenol A, a compound which has recently been banned in plastic baby bottles but which some scientists believe could be harmful in other guises, such as coatings for food cans.

Activist lawyers ClientEarth and chemicals campaigners ChemSec recently said they had sued ECHA for refusing to disclose the names of facilities producing 356 potentially dangerous chemicals. ECHA told Reuters in May it had decided to publish company names ONLY in the case of firms that are suppliers of hazardous substances, but that those entities and stakeholders could request confidentiality.

For producers of nonhazardous chemicals, the disclosure would be voluntary.

Notes: * REACH is the European regulation for the safe use of chemicals. REACH deals with the registration, evaluation, authorization and restriction of chemical substances. Adopted in 2006, it entered into force on June 1, 2007. The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), based in Helsinki, Finland, acts as overseer of the REACH system.

REACH strives to do two things: 1) catalogue all ~100,000 chemicals in use today, and 2) set restrictions on uses of toxic chemicals.

ECHA guidance: http://guidance.echa.europa.eu/index_en.htm

For $12B, Google Buys Motorola’s Insured Supply Chain

The Google-Motorola deal announced last week is about hardware manufacturing capability.  In other words, Google just paid $12.5 billion for a gadget supply chain with over 20,000 patents as the cherry on top.

As Chris Nowak put it in a recent article in Environmental Leader about quality management in a modern supply chain, “Today’s business problems include how to compete with a supply chain like Apple’s – a bristling hot pot of electronics suppliers and logistical hubs that delivers a customized, monogrammed electronic gadget in 3 days or a book you order today that’s delivered tomorrow, or the sneakers that you design to wear next week.

“Like it or not,” writes Nowak, “this is today’s competitive field.  All this speed still has to be cost-effective, innovative, compliant and risk-analyzed for whatever market it’s being made in and sold into.  Today’s global supply chain has blink-fast distribution demands.”

It couldn’t be more true.  What Motorola has is a hardware supply chain for gadgets comparable to Apple’s; now Google has one too.  That’s a large chunk of the $12 billion, and that chunk that was worth it.

The environmental compliance piece. What’s notable from our point of view is that Motorola has in recent years made significant efforts in its supply chain environmental compliance.  Their supply chain risk in terms of compliance vulnerabilities is low, low, low.

Motorola has for years been actively collecting supplier chemical information, fortifying compliance efforts with REACH, RoHS and other environmental regulations — imposed by both government and industry alike.

Did Google see that as part of the value?

Did Google acquisition executives see this material disclosure data as significant portfolio gold that may continue to return value?

As regulations tighten worldwide and the pressure mounts to know what’s happening at the chemical level in an electronics (or in any discrete manufacturing) supply chain, Google will know.  Their competitors?  Not so much..

Microsoft, Apple and Oracle have a new and sudden weak spot. While the term material disclosure has more than one meaning, some call it “supply chain insurance.”  Here’s how Motorola — in just a few years — has insured its supply chain.

“We require our suppliers to disclose an extensive list of Motorola Solutions’ banned, controlled and reportable substances as well as request recycled material content for each part supplied to Motorola Solutions,” says the company.  “We do this to fully understand and track the material content of our products, to comply with regulations, prepare for future regulations and control and improve the environmental profile of our products.”

This is not a partial approach.  It’s bold and thorough.

If you think about all the law suits that fire back and forth between the tech giants like Google, Apple, Microsoft and Oracle — the giants without material disclosure insurance seem suddenly keenly vulnerable in the environmental, sourcing, and quality assurance heel.

Motorola’s material disclosure advantage. Motorola Solutions — in its corporate documentation — discusses how its taken a proactive approach and compiled a list of 63 substances (or substance groups) targeted for exclusion, reduction or reporting during the design and manufacture of products. The list is divided into three sections:

  1. Banned substances which are not allowed for use in any Motorola Solutions product at any level
  2. Controlled substances which are limited for use in manufacturing processes or certain product applications (use limitations are typically defined by national or international environmental regulations)
  3. Reportable substances which are are not currently banned or controlled for use, but are likely to be in the future or the company has identified the need to understand their use as part of a environmentally conscious design process and/or for end-of-life management

Motorola has for years now required its suppliers to fully disclose information on the materials composition of parts and components, including information on substances of concern and recycled material content.  The company collects, stores and published information about internal efforts in researching alternative materials and stewardship regarding batteries and other end-of-life concerns.

Regulatory specifics. Motorola has been a leader in recognizing that many countries around the world have implemented regulatory restrictions on hazardous substances.

  1. European Union’s directive on the restriction of hazardous substances (RoHS):  Motorola Solutions complies with the European Union’s directive on the restriction of hazardous substances (RoHS) for electronic products sold in the EU. The company voluntarily extended compliance with the European Union’s restriction of the hazardous substances (RoHS) directive to cover all newly designed professional and public safety two-way radio products as well as mobile and wireless products for the enterprise, regardless of where they are sold worldwide.
  2. China Management Methods:  China’s Management Methods for Controlling Pollution from Electronic Information Products requires manufacturers to report and label usage of the same six hazardous substances listed in the EU RoHS Directive affective as of March 1, 2007. All Motorola, Inc. and Solutions products manufactured after March 1, 2007 and shipped into China comply with the labeling requirements of China Management Methods.  Motorola posts a direct phone line where you can call to get more information.
  3. REACH:  REACH, the European Union substances regulation that entered into the force of law on June 1, 2007, has notable phased deadlines to 2018. The broad regulation requires communication throughout the supply chain, and Motorola Solutions has been “actively sharing information to meet our obligations and help our customers meet theirs.”

The Wily Larry Page. Acquiring Motorola Mobility’s environmental compliance and collection of material disclosure information from suppliers may not be the final straw that flips the other turtles onto their backs.  But it may.  In the meantime, the value of the logistical aspects of Motorola Mobility’s logsitical supply chain is not to be overlooked.

Not everything Larry Page, Inc., also known as Google, has done in 2011 has been amazing, but this deal is a smart, wily, forward-thinking acquisition for a number of reasons — from risk management right down to the chemical level.

Green Chemistry: Sleeper Hit in Supply-Chain Compliance?

These days, environmental regulations are changing the rules of the game in terms of how things are made, sourced and distributed in manufacturing and supply chains. The rules define the product and the process. More so than ever before.

Green Chemistry might be the sleeper key to compliance

Regulations make the brand? Regulations such as REACH, RoHS, “China RoHS,” “China REACH” and WEEE have huge impact on finished goods as they move through a supply network.  The impact of regulation is felt in all stages:

  1. design
  2. procurement
  3. storage
  4. manufacturing processes
  5. waste procedures and
  6. product distribution.

This is true in aerospace, automotive, packaging — but especially true in electronics, ever more so as the electronics industry becomes increasingly plastic-oriented.

We’re talking about products increasingly defined and designed by environmental interests.

Electronic paper. Of course, late last week the electronics industry became paper-based, or paper-esque shall we say (origami telephones, anyone?) when BBC London announced the debut of the paper cell phone.  Yes, you read that right. It’s a cell phone made of electronic paper. You could make an airplane out of it and try to get your friend’s attention — rather than call.

Increasingly we see more regulations and faster creation to disposal cycles. So how can the electronics industry cope?

E is for Electronics, Environmental, and EHS. Regulations are usually either strictly Environmental regulations or Environmental, Health & Safety (EHS).  Categories of regulations in electronics manufacturing and supply include:

  1. fire safety
  2. toxic substances
  3. product end-of-life
  4. air quality.

The last one, air quality, is a hot topic right now but is no more important than toxic chemicals, end-of-life or fire safety in electronics manufacturing.  Air quality typically comes down to Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAPs).  HAPs as a class cause serious environmental fall out.  HAPs include:

  1. sulfur dioxide
  2. nitrogen oxides
  3. volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
  4. hazardous air pollutants.

Green chemistry might be key. Action to reduce emissions can be done either by converting the waste itself or by using cleaner ingredients to begin with.  The latter is at the heart of green chemistry.  Green chemistry in fact addresses most environmental regulatory concerns:  the greener the chemistry, the fewer the environmental regulatory concerns.

To find out about Green Chemistry without the struggle of navigating the California.gov web site, try GC3 or Green Chemistry Council out of University of Massachusetts-Lowell.  Under the “Publications” section there are some helpful documents, including case studies by big companies like HP and Seagate who are seeking environmental regulatory compliance worldwide through greener chemistry.  Read up, go green, and as always: track, track, track your data.

Because it’s critical to be compliant, it becomes key to be green.  Remember:  there is no substitute for year-over-year tracking data for demonstrating to shareholders just how green you’ve been.

Green Chemistry image (top) courtesy of Actio Corporation Communications, used by permission.

5 Case Studies on REACH Compliance

For companies still wondering how their situation fits into REACH, the following case studies may help. These case studies address compliance in a variety of scenarios. The five instances of how-other-companies-did-it represent common situations. The case studies address both upstream and downstream scenarios.

1. Downstream user under REACH (with confidential uses)
A medium sized company supplying preparations to the marine sector consider implications of keeping this use of a substance confidential from their suppliers; find out what further action they may need to follow as a downstream user under REACH.

2. Global manufacturing company seeks to automate the collection of supplier data for REACH
A Fortune 500 manufacturer and retailer with operations worldwide seeks to automate supplier chemical data collection as much as possible for compliance with REACH.

3. AstraZeneca, a pharmaceutical manufacturer, and famous furniture company Herman Miller along with an automobile agency voice software testimonials on software products they use to manage substance-level compliance with substances under REACH and similar regulations.

4. An alloy producer (see also RoHS) clarifies duties under REACH
A producer of alloys determines that under REACH it is the component metals that constitute the alloys they manufacture that are within the scope of registration and for one of these that they import they will have registration obligations.

5. REACH and a company importing a solvent from the US
A company importing a solvent for the first time from outside the EU is concerned about having missed the preregistration deadline but finds they can pre-register and get help from other SIEF members.

These case studies — unless otherwise indicated and linked above — may be found on the web (at the time of this posting) at the following URL:  hse.gov.uk/reach/casestudies/index.htm.

European Agencies Ban Six Chemicals

In REACH and chemicals news, it was announced in Europe that six dangerous substances are to be phased out. This means that manufacturers who use these chemicals in their products — or have absorbed them somewhere in their supply chain — will have to:

a) know about those offending product ingredients, and

b) find replacement raw materials if the company is to conduct business in Europe legally.

The Commission decision follows the successful first phase of REACH’s registration and notification of chemicals. It’s all a part of REACH, Europe’s initiative to make the use of chemicals safer.

European Commission Vice President Antonio Tajani said, “Today’s decision is an example of the successful implementation of REACH and of how sustainability can be combined with competitiveness. It will encourage industry to develop alternatives and foster innovation.”

What it means is that six substances of very high concern — also known as SVHCs — have been moved from the candidate list to the authorization list, known as Annex XIV, under the EU’s REACH regulation. Annex XIV is like chemical-Alcatraz, substances there cannot be placed on the market or used unless they get a special clearance from the Agency and authorisation is granted for a specific use. All SVHC listings, selections and classifications are based on recommendations made by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA).

The following six chemical substances of very high concern are the first entrants in the Annex XIV:

1. 5-ter-butyl-2,4,6-trinito-m-xylene (musk xylene)

2. 4,4′-diaminodiphenylmethane (MDA)

3. hexabromocyclododecane (HBCDD)

4. bis(2-ethylexyl) phthalate (DEHP)

5. benzyl butyl phthalate (BBP)

6. dibutyl phthalate (DBP)

If your company uses any of these substances – even in tiny quanitites – or if these substances appear magically in your product from a mysterious supply chain source – a timetable for substitution will have to be submitted. These six substances have been determined to be either carcinogenic, toxic for reproduction or persistent in the environment and to accumulate in living organisms, and will be banned within the next three to five years.

Environment Commissioner Janez Potonik said: “Chemicals are everywhere in the modern world and some of them can be very dangerous. Today’s decision is an important step towards better protecting our health and the environment.”

Additional substances will be added to Annex XIV in the future.

The Commission also says it will put forth a greater number of known substances of very high concern for inclusion in the candidate list. The Commission and the European Chemicals Agency say they are fully committed to achieve this goal, and are expecting the “active engagement of the Member States.”

SVHC background. As we’ve reported previously in this blog, the SVHC list is simply a list of Substances of Very High Concern. “Only the European community could come up with such a tactful term for ‘highly toxic stuff,'” as a recent article in Environmental Leader put it.

By 2012, over 165 substances are expected to be listed on the SVHC candidate list. The list includes substances which are:

* Carcinogenic, Mutagenic or toxic to Reproduction

* Persistent, Bioaccumulative and Toxic (PBT) or very Persistent and very Bioaccumulative (vPvB) (defined by REACH criteria), and/or

* Identified as causing probable serious effects to humans or the environment of an equivalent level of concern as those above, e.g. endocrine disrupters — for reference, in the US there are 134 suspected endocrine disruptors.

The latest SVHC candidate list is online here at the ECHA site, and if that site is down — as it often seems to be — go to the June 2010 SVHC candidate list hosted by Actio.

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