Every electrotechnical product has an environmental impact over its entire life cycle, from raw material acquisition, to the manufacture, distribution, use, maintenance, reuse, and end of life of its components, and all of this across borders. An IEC international standard for the material declaration for products of and for the electrotechnical industry, and its associated database, have been adopted by European, Japanese, and USA industries.
Electrical and electronic products are manufactured using many substances; some, for instance lead, mercury and cadmium, are regulated and must be reported.
IEC TC (Technical Committee) 111: Environmental standardization for electrical and electronic products and systems, published IEC 62474, Material Declaration for Products of and for the Electrotechnical Industry, in March 2012. This landmark standard was designed to help the industry track and declare specific information about the material composition of its products.
It is aimed at harmonising requirements across the supply chain and at improving economic efficiencies; it defines requirements for the exchange of material composition data and provides those for material declarations. IEC 62474 benefits the electrotechnical industry by establishing the requirements for reporting substances and materials, standardising protocols, and facilitating the transfer and processing of data.
Associated database facilitates information exchange
The IEC 62474 ‘database’ accompanies the IEC 62474 standard. This database, which is maintained by a validation team, consists of a list of substances, substance groups, and common material classes to declare, with reportable applications and reporting thresholds. The database also includes information for software developers who are working on IT tools for material declaration that conforms to the standard.
IEC 62474 specifies the criteria to add, change, or delete a given substance, substance group or material class from the database. There are three basic criteria for inclusion in the IEC 62474 database: ‘currently regulated’, ‘for information only’ and ‘for assessment’.
Simultaneous adoption across continents
On 21 January 2014 three bodies, CEA (Consumer Electronics Association), DIGITALEUROPE, and the JGPSSI (Japanese Green Procurement Survey Standardization Initiative) announced that IEC 62474 was now the recommended electrotechnical industry’s material declaration standard. The existing JIG (Joint Industry Guide) 101 they used previously was ‘now several years out of date with global regulations and, consequently, should be considered officially obsolete’, a joint press release by the three organisations indicated, adding: ‘IEC 62474 is now the recommended electrotechnical industry’s material declaration standard’.
The US-based CEA brings together 2000 companies within the consumer technology industry. It ‘functions as a vital connection between companies, retailers, and consumers to develop a unified technology roadmap and tackles any impasses along the way’.
DIGITALEUROPE ‘the voice of the European digital technology industry’ represents more than 10 000 companies all over Europe with more than 2 million employees and over EUR 1,000 billion in revenue.
Japan’s JGPSII is a voluntary organisation created with the purpose of standardising substances contained in parts and materials of equipment in electrical and electronic products through effective survey methods. Back in June 2012, it announced it would be dissolved and its activities transferred to a subcommittee of the Japanese IEC/TC111 committee following publication of IEC 62474.
Adoption of this international standard and its associated database by these three international bodies will help manufacturers track and declare detailed and harmonised information about the material composition of their products and the possible presence of restricted substances they contain. It should also help ensure that these products conform to legal requirements, thereby supporting trade and reducing the possible negative environmental impact of many electrotechnical components and products.
Summarised from IEC e-tech March 2014