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Addressing the Issue of Chemicals of Concern in Electronics: Challenges and Recommendations for Labelling Initiatives

  • Published on January 9, 2022

This new report provides an assessment of how ecolabels covering electronic products currently address chemicals of concern and discusses the main challenges that labelling programmes currently face in this regard.

Chemicals provide a variety of specific functions in electric and electronic products or in their manufacturing process. However, some of these chemicals are hazardous and can cause concern related to their potential for adverse impacts on human health and the environment. The flow of information on hazardous substances across the life cycle of electronic products allows various stakeholders to make more informed choices related to the use of chemicals in products. The sound management of CoC throughout the value chain is therefore essential to increase the electronics industry’s contribution to more sustainable consumption and production patterns. As ecolabelling initiatives have the potential to increase stakeholders’ knowledge of various aspects of the products, including of substances and materials used in different stages of the life cycle of a product, they can play an important role in advancing the management of CoC.

All ecolabels assessed in this report include information disclosure requirements related to chemicals residing in the products, and provide CoC-related criteria that require or incentivize reduction of specific chemicals for individual materials or components. Most ecolabels provide general categories of prohibited chemicals, and/or make reference to lists of chemicals of concern, and few provide a list of chemicals that are allowed for use under the product category.

The primary audience of this report are owners of labelling programmes, and the stakeholders who participate in the criteria development processes, but at the same time hopes to inform national governments on how to best support ecolabelling, and to provide relevant information to companies certifying their products against such programmes.

This report was prepared by the United Nations Environment Programme in partnership with the One Planet network Consumer Information Programme CI-SCP). It is a result of a multi-stakeholder process that was initiated by the workshop ‘Addressing the challenge of chemicals of concern, enabling circular electronics’ organized by UNEP in November 2020. Further, the document benefitted from the feedback of workshop participants and of members of the CI-SCP Working Group on Type 1 ecolabels who participated in a global consultation. This report is part of the SAICM GEF 9771 project Global best practices on emerging chemical policy issues of concern under the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF).

Download the report here!

 

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