Hazardous chemicals used in the electronics industry

Mapping the gap between industry practices and sustainability standards set by civil society organisations and experts

sign-the-challenge-petition-2The GoodElectronics Network and the International Campaign for Responsible Technology (ICRT) have issued a challenge to the electronics industry to adopt safer and more sustainable manufacturing practices with a focus on responsible chemical management.

We are calling on the industry to proactively reduce and eliminate the human rights risks associated with the use of process chemicals in the manufacturing of electronics products and components. Electronics companies must develop and adopt safer alternatives to harmful substances and production processes in order to protect the health of workers, their communities and the environment.

Hazardous chemicals

Due to the use of hazardous chemicals, many electronics workers are suffering from cancer, miscarriages, birth defects and other problems. To address this issue, we published ‘Meeting the Challenge’ in 2015, containing six important recommendations for safe and sustainable electronics manufacturing.

Measures by the electronics industry

The industry asserts that it is making serious efforts to address these issues. The Electronics Industry Citizenship Coalition (EICC) is a coalition of more than 100 electronics, retail, auto and toy companies. EICC says it is committed to supporting the rights and well-being of workers and communities around the world that are affected by the global electronics supply chain. EICC sets and holds its members accountable to core standards and provides training and assessment tools.

Chemical Challenge Gap Analysis

The question is whether the efforts made by EICC and its member companies are enough. Are the standards and tools offered by EICC adequate? The short but clear answer is that they are not. This gap analysis demonstrates how far the standards and tools developed by EICC fall short of the expectations set by civil society organisations and experts in the field of occupational health and safety and industrial hygiene.

Mind the gap!

The EICC offered to do a ‘gap analysis’, to compare its Code of Conduct and Validated Audit Process (VAP) with the standards formulated by GoodElectronics and ICRT in ‘Meeting the Challenge’. Alternatively, we measured up the EICC Code and VAP Protocol to the standards and priorities we have set as CSOs. In the table below you can see how EICCs self-assessment and our CSO assessment compare. Click on a score to see more details.

Legend

Chemical Challenge Gap Analysis - Green (No gap)No gap. The EICC requirements are in line with CSO expectations.
Chemical Challenge Gap Analysis - Yellow (Small gap)Small gap. The EICC requirements are somewhat below CSO expectations.
Chemical Challenge Gap Analysis - Orange (Gap)Considerable gap. The EICC requirements are considerably below CSO expectations.
Chemical Challenge Gap Analysis - Red (Large gap)Large gap. The EICC requirements are far below CSO expectations.

The Chemical Challenge Gap Analysis

Click on a score / icon to see it in more detail.Please note that EICC member companies are required to adhere to each aspect throughout their entire supply chain and in each facility.

#Aspect
EICC score
CSO score
Transparency
1.1Do brands publicly disclose names and addresses of all suppliers?Chemical Challenge Gap Analysis - Red (Large gap)Chemical Challenge Gap Analysis - Red (Large gap)
1.2Are suppliers required to give brands full materials disclosure of all chemicals used?Chemical Challenge Gap Analysis - Yellow (Small gap)Chemical Challenge Gap Analysis - Red (Large gap)
1.3Do suppliers give the brands full materials disclosure of all chemicals?Chemical Challenge Gap Analysis - Yellow (Small gap)Chemical Challenge Gap Analysis - Orange (Gap)
1.4Are chemicals used in the supply chain publicly disclosed?Chemical Challenge Gap Analysis - Red (Large gap)Chemical Challenge Gap Analysis - Red (Large gap)
1.5Do suppliers provide full health and safety information to workers?Chemical Challenge Gap Analysis - Green (No gap)Chemical Challenge Gap Analysis - Orange (Gap)
1.6Do suppliers provide health and safety training to workers?Chemical Challenge Gap Analysis - Green (No gap)Chemical Challenge Gap Analysis - Yellow (Small gap)
1.7Do brands have contract clauses with suppliers requiring disclosure of all materials?Chemical Challenge Gap Analysis - Yellow (Small gap)Chemical Challenge Gap Analysis - Red (Large gap)
Use of safer chemicals
2.1Is there a corporate policy for alternative assessments of hazardous chemicals? Chemical Challenge Gap Analysis - Yellow (Small gap)Chemical Challenge Gap Analysis - Orange (Gap)
2.2If not, is there a plan to develop such a policy? And if such a plan is in place, by when is the policy to be developed?Chemical Challenge Gap Analysis - Yellow (Small gap)Chemical Challenge Gap Analysis - Red (Large gap)
2.3Is there a corporate policy for safer substitutes of hazardous chemicals?Chemical Challenge Gap Analysis - Green (No gap)Chemical Challenge Gap Analysis - Orange (Gap)
2.4 Do brands encourage chemical suppliers to develop safer substitutes? Chemical Challenge Gap Analysis - Red (Large gap)Chemical Challenge Gap Analysis - Red (Large gap)
2.5Do the brands have a policy for using the same high standards globally and for forbidding transfer of harmful chemicals and/or practices to suppliers in developing countries?Chemical Challenge Gap Analysis - Green (No gap)Chemical Challenge Gap Analysis - Red (Large gap)
2.6Do the brands have a policy requiring suppliers to follow the ‘hierarchy of controls’?Chemical Challenge Gap Analysis - Green (No gap)Chemical Challenge Gap Analysis - Orange (Gap)
2.7Do the brands have a policy requiring suppliers to use the precautionary principle?Chemical Challenge Gap Analysis - Red (Large gap)Chemical Challenge Gap Analysis - Red (Large gap)
Protecting workers
3.1Are suppliers required to ensure no harm to workers due to exposure to low levels of multiple chemicals?Chemical Challenge Gap Analysis - Yellow (Small gap)Chemical Challenge Gap Analysis - Red (Large gap)
3.2Are suppliers required to map manufacturing processes to identify potential harm from chemical exposure?Chemical Challenge Gap Analysis - Green (No gap)Chemical Challenge Gap Analysis - Orange (Gap)
3.3Do the brands track and report the volumes of all used chemical materials, the number of workers exposed and the volumes of discharge of each of these materials?Chemical Challenge Gap Analysis - Yellow (Small gap)Chemical Challenge Gap Analysis - Red (Large gap)
3.4Do brands determine the hazard potential for each material used and/or generated?Chemical Challenge Gap Analysis - Red (Large gap)Chemical Challenge Gap Analysis - Red (Large gap)
3.5Are suppliers required to implement comprehensive workplace hazard monitoring protocols and methods?Chemical Challenge Gap Analysis - Yellow (Small gap)Chemical Challenge Gap Analysis - Red (Large gap)
3.6Are suppliers required to implement medical surveillance policies and practices to prevent occupational diseases?Chemical Challenge Gap Analysis - Yellow (Small gap)Chemical Challenge Gap Analysis - Red (Large gap)
Participation of workers and communities
4.1Is there a policy on collective bargaining over working conditions (including health and safety protections)?Chemical Challenge Gap Analysis - Green (No gap)Chemical Challenge Gap Analysis - Yellow (Small gap)
4.2Do contract clauses guarantee the right to collective bargaining?Chemical Challenge Gap Analysis - Green (No gap)Chemical Challenge Gap Analysis - Orange (Gap)
4.3Are suppliers promoting active participation of workers in joint health and safety committees?Chemical Challenge Gap Analysis - Red (Large gap)Chemical Challenge Gap Analysis - Red (Large gap)
Protecting communities and the environment
5.1Are suppliers required to do comprehensive and transparent monitoring of all discharge streams from all facilities?Chemical Challenge Gap Analysis - Red (Large gap)Chemical Challenge Gap Analysis - Red (Large gap)
5.2Are suppliers required to develop pollution prevention plans?Chemical Challenge Gap Analysis - Green (No gap)Chemical Challenge Gap Analysis - Yellow (Small gap)
5.3Do policy and contract clauses oblige suppliers to clean-up and rendition costs for discharges and pollution?Chemical Challenge Gap Analysis - Red (Large gap)Chemical Challenge Gap Analysis - Red (Large gap)
Compensation and remediation
6.1Do the brands have a policy ensuring suppliers provide fair compensation to workers and community members harmed by exposure to harmful chemicals? Chemical Challenge Gap Analysis - Yellow (Small gap)Chemical Challenge Gap Analysis - Red (Large gap)
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