Material & Resource Use
Product Material Content
Information technology (IT) devices contain potentially hazardous chemicals and heavy metals that can adversely impact ecological and human health. To protect people and the environment, EMC takes a proactive approach to minimizing the use of these substances in our products by researching and identifying alternative materials. We also take proactive measures to prevent these substances from entering the natural ecosystem.
Design for Environment
Our Design for Environment (DfE) program incorporates environmental considerations throughout product design. EMC engineers take what we have learned about the environmental impact of existing product designs and use that knowledge to implement best practices for ongoing design.
To eliminate environmentally sensitive materials in our products, viable alternatives must be found. When we believe that a material may be of concern, we take the precautionary approach by exploring alternatives that are safer for ecological and human health.
Our Material Sciences lab collaborates across industry and academia to identify and qualify alternatives that meet the same or higher standards of reliability, cost-effectiveness, performance, and availability as the materials we currently use. When a suitable alternative for a material is found, we eliminate or reduce use of the material of concern whenever technically and economically feasible—even if use of that material is permitted by law.
As an example, in 2010 EMC identified a halogen free printed circuit board (PCB) material that did not contain brominated flame retardants. This new material met EMC’s rigorous requirements for product performance, availability, continuity of supply, cost viability, and long term reliability. In 2011, we shifted over the majority of our PCB designs to this new material and have recently begun working with our partners to develop a newer halogen free material with improved electrical characteristics to enable the deployment of next generation products.
EMC is also a member of the Center for Advanced Lifecycle Engineering (CALCE) and we use their research and resources for information on the environmental impact of materials in our products.
We continue to work with the Green Chemistry and Commerce Council (GC3) to identify alternatives for phthalates that will both meet the qualifications for use in our products and reduce their impact on the environment and human health. GC3 has selected certain phthalates used by EMC and other industry partners and is conducting a GreenScreen to better understand their impacts on human health. GC3 will report their findings in 2012. EMC intends to use the findings to work with the other GC3 industry participants and suppliers to determine whether suitable alternatives can be found.
In addition, we participate in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Partnership on Alternatives to Certain Phthalates, a project of their Design for Environment Program. In 2011, this project published alternatives for eight phthalates of high concern. We are currently working with our suppliers to evaluate these alternatives for use in our products.
Independent of these industry partnerships, EMC has identified and qualified a plasticizer for our cable sheathing that is free of halogens, PVCs, and phthalates. However, there is insufficient demand within the supply chain for this alternative material, as the chemicals it replaces are not currently regulated. Without demand, there are challenges of cost and continuity of supply, and it is not viable for EMC to use the substitute material.
Full Material Disclosure
In 2010, EMC launched a Full Material Disclosure (FMD) database to catalogue and trace substances used in EMC products. This database enables us to quickly and easily identify the presence of substances to restrict their usage in response to regulation or as part of our own programs. To gather this information, we asked direct suppliers to identify, by CAS number (a unique identifier for chemical substances), materials used in every part of EMC products.
Compiling this database is complex due to the vast number of parts in our hardware products, the constant evolution of our product portfolio and the maturity level of each supplier's infrastructure to enable them to provide FMD declarations. We achieved our goal of 65 percent completion of the FMD database in 2011. (NOTE: This percentage does not include Iomega, RSA, Data Domain, Greenplum or Isilon products.) We continue to gather this information from our suppliers, adding data for our new products and backfilling data from our older product releases.
The FMD database also helps with non-environmental programs, such as identifying where “conflict minerals” (tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold) are used in our products so that we can trace their source.
To learn more, visit Supply Chain.
Meeting Compliance and Customer Requirements
As interest in reducing the environmental impact of IT products has grown, regulations on product material content worldwide have followed. There has also been an increase in requests for information from our customers on specific substances in our products. The above mentioned initiatives are crucial to our efforts to stay ahead of government regulations and customer desires, but the proliferation of regulations and the lack of global harmonization can be a challenge. EMC has a governance body which oversees environmental product compliance and regularly anticipates and communicates requirements to our engineering organization and supply chain. In 2012, we plan to increase education for our suppliers to help them understand and prepare for the quickly changing regulatory landscape.
VOC is not material to EMC's manufacturing operations and our VOC emissions are negligible. Other than minor spray paint touch-up processes, we do not have painting or coating operations or other VOC-containing processes. Our supplier specifications require the use of non-VOC powder coating or water-based paints, with the exception of a small number of decorative parts.