Throughout the life cycle of electronic equipment, its manufacture, usage and disposal pose a threat to the environment. Statistics show that 4 000 tons of electronic waste is generated each hour worldwide but less than 10% of electronic and electrical waste is properly recycled, writes Shabir Satar, product manager, Huawei Symantec.
At each stage of the electronic waste treatment process, a great deal of toxic heavy metal and toxic organic compound has the risk of being released into the environment and the surrounding soil, air and ground water.
Since its inception, Huawei Symantec has recognised that environmental protection and energy conservation are the bedrocks of corporate development. The company has an environmental protection taskforce dedicated to studying environmental protection policies and statutes that are environmentally friendly.
In line with this, Huawei Symantec works to ensure that all materials used in its products and solutions comply with the strictest environmental standards. The following are some of the key regulations.
General mobilisation for global environmental protection
In 2006, the Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive (RoHS) took effect in the European Union. After the RoHS directive was enacted, many countries, including the United States, Japan, China and Korea, formulated or amended their laws, regulations and standards with reference to the EU statutes and directives.
These countries have also enacted their respective environmental protection laws and regulations.
To save on operating costs and reduce energy consumption, organisations have added environmental protection requirements into procurement tenders, such as requirements for energy conservation and consumption reduction as well as recycling and restricting the use of toxic and hazardous substances.
Environmental protection laws and regulations
In order to be recognised as environmentally-friendly, enterprises need to be in compliance with environmental laws and regulations. Typical environmental laws and regulations are the Directive on Eco-Design of Energy-Using Products (EuP), the Directive on Restriction of Certain Hazardous Substances in Electrical and Electronic Equipment (RoHS), Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (WEEE Directive), the Packaging Directive, the Directive on Batteries and Accumulators and Waste Batteries and Accumulators, and the REACH Directive.
The EuP Directive (the Eco-Design of Energy-Using Products Framework Directive) mainly applies to energy-using products placed on the market and the products (excluding the means of transportation) used to generate, convert and measure energy as well as the parts included in energy-using products and independently sold directly to end-users.
Energy consumed by products includes electricity, solid fuel, liquid fuel and gas fuel.
This Directive applies to the electronic and electrical equipment whose sales volume exceeds 200 000 sets per year in the EU market. Companies that have EuP evaluation are allowed to the “CE marking” on their products.
RoHS is an abbreviation for “The Restriction of the Use of Certain Hazardous Substances in Electrical and Electronic Equipment”.
This RoHS Directive prescribes that from 1 July, 2006, electronic and electrical products entering the EU market are prohibited from using six hazardous substances: lead, mercury, cadmium, hexavalent chromium (Chromium VI or Cr6), Polybrominated biphenyls (PBB) and Polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE).
The revised RoHS Directive 2005/618/ EC provides for the concentration limits of the above substances: The maximum concentrations are 0.1% or 1000 ppm for Pb, Hg, Cr+6, PBB and PBDE (100ppm for Cd).
The purpose of Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (WEEE Directive) is to prevent waste electronic and electrical equipment from being generated. It also aims to re-use and recycle waste equipment generated to reduce the need for waste treatment.
Requirements of the WEEE Directive for IT and communications industries are as follows:
* 75% by-product weight of materials can be recycled and reused.
* 65% by weight of materials are materials recycled (up to 10% of energy recycled).
The major contents of this directive include:
* Recycling rate must be 55% to 80%.
* Packaging materials shall be free of heavy metals and other hazardous substances prior to 2010.
Huawei Symantec: a pioneer of environmental protection
With regard to these laws and regulations, Huawei Symantec is a pioneer in the practice of environmental protection. It has an environmental protection taskforce dedicated to study environmental protection policies and statutes that are environmentally friendly, and the company designates Technology Qualification Certification (TQC) Engineers to assure that all materials comply with RoHS criteria.
All component suppliers (including structure, power supply, battery and packaging materials) must pass Huawei Symantec’s Environmental Protection Taskforce rigorous environmental certification. This taskforce makes site visits to suppliers on a irregular basis to ensure their materials sources, production sites, warehouses and transportation comply with the environmental protection requirements.
In respect to process flow, Huawei Symantec has promulgated “The Administrative Regulations on the Control over the Production of Environmentally Friendly Boards”, setting out explicit requirements for environmental protection throughout the process of production and manufacturing.
All boards must comply with environmentally-friendly processing requirements, while PCB boards shall not contain lead and must be affixed with environmental protection labels. Equipment must also be affixed with WEEE and EuP labels for environmental protection.
Storage systems are subject to protection under RoHS5 waiver or exemption provisions. At present, there are no special lead-free requirement for storage systems. As the pioneer of the environmental protection for ICT products, however, Huawei Symantec proactively conducts lead-free product research and development.
To date, Huawei Symantec has undertaken lead-free renovation throughout the process of procurement, research and development, production and storage and transportation and has pledged to make the entire process lead free within three years.
Huawei Symantec has since its inception singled out green storage as the basis of its future development and set green data centre as the target. Huawei Symantec is confident it will lead a new wave of green storage by conducting in-depth research of environmental protection laws and regulations and putting in place a rigorous environmental protection enforcement system.