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Manufacturers are driving new products to market every day that impact our lives in various ways. While these products aim to enhance our quality of life, they also influence the environment.

As more manufacturers develop sustainable products by simplifying parts, recycling, or refurbishment recyclability, they must also navigate environmental laws. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sets and implements environmental legislation, funds and conducts research, and guards against serious health threats to people and the environment. The European Green Deal outlines how Europe may become the first continent to be climate neutral by 2050. Reaching this target means creating a clean, circular economy, restoring biodiversity, and cutting pollution.

Compliance regulations vary by region and industry. A U.S. medical company will differ from a European automotive company, yet both must ensure that they are globally compliant if they want to sell their products on international markets. The following regulations pertain to products that are manufactured, imported, or sold in the EU market.

  • REACH–Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals
    REACH mandates an assessment of chemical qualities, identifies the dangers to human health and the environment that go along with them, and ensures that information is shared with suppliers and downstream consumers in the EU market. The REACH standard’s main goal is to encourage the gradual replacement of the most hazardous compounds.
  • WEEE–Waste from Electrical and Electronic Equipment
    The WEEE regulation is the prevention of waste from electronic and electrical equipment near the end of life. Electrical waste is made up of an intricate variety of substances, some of which are dangerous. Products may produce dangerous (hazardous) compounds including lead, mercury, and cadmium during use; collection, treatment, and disposal of such waste can have serious negative effects on the environment and human health. Modern electronics also include rare and expensive materials that, with proper waste management, can be recycled and utilized again.
  • RoHS–Restriction of Hazardous Substances
    The goal of the RoHS regulation is to reduce the risks that come with the management of electronic and electrical waste to both human health and the environment. It prohibits the use of specific dangerous compounds in electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) that can be replaced with safer substitutes. Heavy metals, flame retardants, and plasticizers are among the prohibited compounds. The regulation encourages the recycling of EEE because less harmful materials are included in EEE and its waste-derived components. It also guarantees that importers and producers of EEE operate on an even playing field in the EU market.

Conflict Minerals Roll-up Report (CMRT)

According to the Dodd-Frank Act, businesses that export goods to the U.S. are required to file a comprehensive roll-up report on the conflict minerals status of their suppliers. The Conflict Minerals Reporting Template (CMRT), and the related statements and policies from each supplier, must be compiled into a single CMRT form because it is common for a single commodity to come from hundreds, if not thousands, of suppliers. The customer can comprehend high-risk suppliers in their supply chain thanks to this roll-up, which is an information exchange between a supplier and a customer.

The Conflict Minerals Rule

It’s important to note that the rule does not prohibit conflict minerals from being used in products. Instead, the rule mandates that the reporting entity publicly disclose how the conflict minerals are used.

Conflict minerals are:

  • Tantalum—derived from columbite-tantalite
  • Tin—derived from cassiterite
  • Tungsten—derived from wolframite
  • Gold, or any other minerals or derivatives

Common uses of these minerals/ores:

  • Columbite-tantalite is a metal ore from which tantalum is extracted. Tantalum is used in electronic components, including mobile telephones, computers, video-game consoles, and digital cameras, and as an alloy for making carbide tools and jet engine components.
  • Cassiterite is a metal ore used to produce tin. Tin is used in alloys, tin plating, and solders for joining pipes and electronic circuits.
  • Wolframite is the metal ore used to produce tungsten, which is used for metal wires, electrodes, and contacts in lighting, electronic, electrical, heating, and welding applications.
  • Gold is used for making jewelry and in electronic, communications, and aerospace equipment.

ISO 14001:2015 Standard Helps Improve Environmental Performance

To improve an organization’s environmental performance, ISO 14001:2015 outlines the specifications for an environmental management system. An organization looking to manage its environmental responsibilities in a methodical way that supports the environmental pillar of sustainability is expected to apply ISO 14001:2015. The ISO standard helps organizations manage their environmental responsibilities in a systematic manner that contributes to the environmental pillar of sustainability.

An organization can use ISO 14001:2015 to assist in achieving the objectives of its environmental management system, which benefit the environment, the organization, and interested parties.The expected outcomes of an environmental management system consist of the following, by the organization’s environmental policy:

  • Environmental performance improvement
  • Compliance obligations being met
  • Accomplishment of environmental goals

ISO 14001 helps organizations:

  • Demonstrate compliance with current and future statutory and regulatory requirements
  • Increase leadership involvement and engagement of employees
  • Improve company reputation and the confidence of stakeholders through strategic communication
  • Achieve strategic business aims by incorporating environmental issues into business management
  • Provide a competitive and financial advantage through improved efficiencies and reduced costs
  • Encourage better environmental performance of suppliers by integrating them into the organization’s business systems 4