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DCA Expectations & Predictions for 2011

What environmental (and social) performance-related requirements can the electronics industry expect from regulators, NGOs, and competitors in 2011? Here’s both what we at {complink 12808|Design Chain Associates LLC (DCA)} know, and what we guess, will happen:

  • Two more lists of substances of very high concern (SVHCs) from the European Union that you will have to disclose. Expect 40 to 50 more substances, in addition to the current 46.
  • Guidance from the Securities & Exchange Commission on how public companies can meet the annual conflict minerals reporting requirements.
    • Potential for tantalum capacitor shortages as Australian mines ramp production to offset the 20 percent of world supply that comes from the Democratic Republic of Congo.
    • Possible operating agreements between the Congolese government and multinational companies would allow continued sourcing in that region.
  • Rare Earth Elements. Expect shortages of REEs to grow as more electric and hybrid automobiles are produced. Global economic recovery and a shift to non-fossil energy could exacerbate the problem. Watch for legislation in the US to fast-track opening of new mines and processing facilities. Japan will lead with aggressive new investment in mines in Australia, Canada, and Southeast Asia. Prices will continue to climb.
  • Energy Star will release a new product specification for small network equipment.
  • EU WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) Recast will be approved and published in the European Journal.
  • We expect some hearings to be held on the Safe Chemicals act of 2010 — the bills in the US Senate and House that would implement reform of the Toxic Substance Control Act (TSCA) — and maybe revisions, but not much more. The American Chemistry Council (ACC), the primary chemical industry trade association, gleefully insists that TSCA reform is needed and is raring to go on it, but NGOs like Environmental Defense don’t think [the ACC and NGOs] have a common vision of what reform actually means. We are hoping that, since articles could be impacted by the reform, article manufacturers will finally decide that they need a voice in the process that is different from both the ACC’s and the NGOs'. We see the article manufacturers’ opinions and desires being closer to the NGOs than ACC.
  • More US states will pass WEEE-like producer responsibility laws. None will be the same as any others.
  • China will finally implement Phase 2 of China RoHS (Restriction of Hazardous Substances).
  • The US Federal Trade Commission will issue revised guidance on “green claims” in 2011. A draft for comment was available in the fourth quarter 2010; lawyers we spoke with expect some level of crack-down once it goes into force. So make sure you can back up those claims, OK? No more “Greenest This!” and “New! Now with more Environmental Stuff!” nonsense, please.
  • Software systems to manage environmental data will continue to play catchup.
  • The electronics industry will continue to allow NGOs and governments to lead us down the path to improved environmental performance. Unfortunately, it’s unclear that the leading they’ve done has really improved it much at all. Imagine if we could do it ourselves… After all, we really do know how electronics work.
  • More universities will start teaching green chemistry, but few if any will provide a comprehensive degree program targeted at producing new college grads with the multidisciplinary skills and knowledge required to address product environmental performance issues. Green chemistry is a great start, but it’s only one step down the path.

    What do you think will happen?

    DCA senior vice presidents Ken Stanvick and Tom Valliere also contributed to this article.

  • 3 comments on “DCA Expectations & Predictions for 2011

    1. SP
      December 8, 2010

      Wow thats a long list. Thanks for sharing. I guess green is goin to be the next big thing. I was hearing the news that in India, environment ministry has banned the packaging of tobacco products in plastic stuff. Its a very big industry and such a dractic step and that too in developing country shows the seriousness of environmental regulations.

    2. Barbara Jorgensen
      December 8, 2010

      Anything that reduces the “green” hype will be welcome. Most of these measures are intended to reduce environmental impact and keep manufacturers honest, but the complexities are staggering.

    3. t.alex
      December 8, 2010

      It seems “Green” is the main theme for 2011. There will more products as well as marketing hypes around this theme.

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