Product Material Content
EMC’s strong commitment to product stewardship empowers us to consider the entire product lifecycle when selecting materials to use in our products. Material selection can have human health or environmental impacts across the value chain: during manufacture, while in use, or at end of life. To protect people and the environment, EMC engineers take a proactive approach to minimize the use of, and identify viable alternatives to, potentially hazardous substances in our products. Over the years, we have also built robust processes to take back, recycle and responsibly dispose of our products at the end of their useful life, which prevents material from entering the ecosystem and reduces our use of finite resources (see Product End of Life for more information). More recently, we have begun exploring closed loop recycling systems for our plastics. In all of these efforts, we go beyond what is required by our customers and industry regulatory requirements, and work to drive new solutions through broad collaboration with industry peers, suppliers, academia and government organizations.
Closing the Loop on Plastics
In 2015, we initiated a pilot project with suppliers to reclaim select plastics from EMC products at end of life, and to reuse those plastics to manufacture new EMC parts of the same type. This new process maintains the plastics’ engineered mechanical and themal properties and avoids “downcycling,” which happens when recycled materials are turned into new materials of lesser quality or reduced functionality. Closed loop also helps reduce our reliance on virgin materials and increases our ability to control the waste stream for this material, while perpetual reuse keeps it out of landfills. As the process expands, we also anticipate cost savings resulting from economies of scale.
During 2016, we expect to complete the sample qualification, conduct required testing, and begin implementation starting with plastics made out of polycarbonate ABS (PC ABS) plastic, which account for the highest volume of plastic used in our products. Our initial focus will be on bezels—perforated covers that attach to the front of an enclosure—with the goal of expanding to more parts as our capacity increases. As the process matures, we expect to expand this to additional types of plastic as feasible.
Identifying Alternative Substances
At EMC, we work to find alternative substances to use in our products that are less harmful to the environment or human health, but will still meet or exceed our rigorous technical requirements. We prioritize substances to assess, and then collaborate with other companies 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. We implement substitutes in new designs where technically and economically feasible. Read more about EMC’s journey to remove potentially hazardous substances here.
Halogens and Phthalates
EMC has been working for several years to reduce the use of halogens in our newly designed printed circuit boards (PCBs). Halogens are an ingredient in flame retardants commonly used in laminates for PCBs, but there are concerns about halogens’ impact on the environment and human health.With the introduction of halogen-free laminates in 2013, and of a halogen-free solder mask in 2014, the majority of our newly designed PCBs (all that are technically feasible) are halogen-free.
We are also working on substitutes for the halogens in our cables. In 2014, we qualified new halogen- and phthalate-free cable designs. However, the first version of these cables were not flexible enough to work with our systems. Lack of flexibility could result in cable fractures and affect system reliability. In 2015, we worked closely with our suppliers to formulate a new compound with improved flexibility and performance. This will enable us to adopt low-smoke, zero-halogen (LSZH) cables in select designs in 2016.
Collaboration and promotion of a wider market adoption have been a central part of our effort to substitute and implement new materials. We work with chemists and engineers in our supply chain to help advance EMC’s products on the road to being halogen-free. On a broader scale, EMC is engaged with the Green Chemistry and Commerce Council (GC3), which works to advance the application of green chemistry and design for the environment across supply chains.
Full Material Disclosure
EMC’s Full Material Disclosure (FMD) database catalogs the substances used in EMC products. This database enables us to quickly and easily identify the presence of substances – when there are new regulations regarding their use – and respond more rapidly to those requirements. To gather this information, we ask suppliers to identify materials used in every part of EMC products by CAS number (a unique identifier for chemical substances). 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 ability to report FMD. We continue to gather this information from our suppliers, as best we can, as we add data for our new products.
To learn more about our work in conflict minerals, visit Supply Chain Responsibility.