Daily Archives: March 22, 2015

Environmental Damnation 15: Waste, RoHS, & WEEE

Waste is bad, and legislation that requires waste to be minimized, dangerous chemicals and compounds to be avoided, and products to be properly recycled and reclaimed and safely disposed of is good. But it’s not good for your supply chain if new legislation comes into effect faster than you can react.

While all products should be designed with recycling and reclamation in mind, it takes time to identify new designs that use safer materials, build new production lines, and get the products to market. And while efforts should currently be in progress to redesign each and every product that contains a substance restricted in at least one major market, sometimes a design does not yet exist that uses an alternative chemical or compound and a more restrictive or new legislation could threaten a major product line.

This is becoming more likely by the day. While the US might not be as advanced as the EU in terms of environmental legislation, some states, like California (which just sent a bumper crop of environmental legislation to the Governor) are making a push and it won’t be long before it’s even harder to get products approved in some states than it is in the EU. Furthermore, as noted by SI in the past, when even countries like India and China (through the initial Order 39 in 2006 and the updated version in 2012) are considering more restrictive Environmental Legislation (which can be thought of as their own version of RoHS – the Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive, one can be sure it won’t be long before this type of legislation become the norm and not the exception.

And while there is a lot one can do to prepare for the coming reality, it all takes time, money, and preparation.

First of all, one needs to make sure the organization has a good bill of materials system in place that tracks each and every compound and chemical that is used in each and every product produced, imported, and exported.

Then, one needs state of the art trade document management systems that properly completes all of the necessary import and export documents to make sure that, provided the goods are compliant, they are not held up or confiscated at the border.

Finally, one needs to implement a good online collaborative design solution that will allow all parties within the company and its partners to design, and produce, alternative products that are compliant with the relative legislation where the company wishes to produce the product or import it for sale.

And while all of these systems are systems that the company should have in place regardless of current or expected legislation, it requires time to identify the right systems, implement the systems, and learn to use the systems to their maximum potential.