Mark Newton, Dell’s senior manager for environmental sustainability, says in the September issue of Chemical Watch, “being ahead of the curve on regulation indicates overall good management. Late adaptation has cost implications, for example the cost of making major changes in a very limited time frame” and Dell’s approach to chemicals management as a life cycle commitment informed by the precautionary principle.
The SIN List is described as an “important influence on electronics companies” and Mark Newton, who spoke at the SIN List’s launch, says “it is helpful to have a comprehensive list of substances to provide advance warning of restrictions to come”.
Extract from the “Dell strives to get ahead of the regulatory curve” article in Chemical Watch
“Dell began its chemicals management process by publishing a list of substances, including PVC and BFRs, that its customers, NGOs and regulators considered most important to restrict or ban. Like some of the other electronics companies that announced phase-out deadlines, it dropped its deadline to phase out PVC and BFRs by the end of 2009 in favour of an open-ended elimination goal.”
“Dell currently minimises the use of PVC and BFRs by using plastics that can be flame retarded with non-halogenated compounds. The company also uses design strategies that minimise plastics and so reduce the need to use flame retarded plastics at all, and has launched a series of PVC- and BFR-free monitors, as well as a number of halogen-reduced products. In addition, Dell is working to eliminate mercury and arsenic from its products and plans to switch all of its new laptop displays to light-emitting diode (LED) displays by 2010, thus avoiding the need to use mercury.”
“Dell’s Mr Newton says that if an EU Directive targeting BFRs and PVC was introduced it might accelerate voluntary efforts by companies to eliminate these substances from their products. “However,” he says, “to be credible, the process used to prioritise these substances must be science-based and consistent with methodologies used to identify other substances of very high concern.” Market based mechanisms in conjunction with effective legislation can accelerate transformational change in the supply chain and widespread industry change is necessary to establish economies of scale for alternatives, he argues. In the meantime, Dell remains involved in a number of projects to find alternatives but, says Mr Newton, “we can’t do it alone”.”