It could be said that ever since the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) and the Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) directives were adopted by European Union (EU) member states years ago, the electronics industry has transformed itself. Once primarily focused on manufacturing quality electronics products at low prices, the industry today has elevated its environmental concerns and is much more closely aligned with the cares of the environmental movement.
Obviously, environmental legislation in Europe and other parts of the world (China, India, and Vietnam, for example, all have similar RoHS legislation) has forced the electronics industry to wring out hazardous substances and adhere to environmental guidelines.
To avoid fines and major disruptions to their supply chains, electronics companies are vigilantly policing parts that make up their mobile devices, laptops, and personal computers, as well as TVs, dishwashers, and refrigerators, looking for RoHS banned substances that include lead, mercury, cadmium, hexavalent chromium, and some polybrominated flame retardants.
Companies have also had to follow the guidelines set out in WEEE, which calls for the collection and recycling of waste from a broad range of end-of-life electrical and electronic equipment products. One example of the impact this legislation is having on electronics companies can be found in a document issued by Lenovo this year, which outlines the approach the company will take to meet the WEEE requirements.
Among other commitments, Lenovo said it will design equipment with consideration to future dismantling, recovery, and recycling requirements. The company also intends to mark its products with the required symbols and inform users of their obligation to separate WEEE from general waste and dispose of it through the provided recycling systems. Additionally, Lenovo said it will facilitate the collection, recycling, and disposal of WEEE from private households and businesses as defined by the applicable member-state regulation.
Then there's another EU regulation -- Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) -- which governs the placement of chemical substances on the market. Under the REACH regulations, companies are required to register chemical substances manufactured or imported into the EU in quantities exceeding one metric ton per year.