New EU Directive Targets Product Lifecycle
A new wide-ranging directive coming out of the European Union this summer may ultimately be more of a challenge than RoHS or WEEE. The Energy-using Products directive (EuP) encompasses the entire lifecycle of a product, from design and manufacturing through use and disposal. The EuP, along with RoHS and WEEE, is part of the EU's 25-year strategy called the "Thematic Strategy on the Sustainable Use of Natural Resources."
Unlike RoHS and WEEE, the EuP doesn't yet come with the bite of law. "The EuP is interesting because it doesn't have legal requirements," says Michael Kirschner, president of Design Chain Associates, a San Francisco firm that consults with OEMs on design chain issues. "Instead, it puts a framework in place to hopefully drive the industry to produce more energy- and material-efficient products through marketplace pressure induced by competitive benchmarking."
The EuP expects product manufacturers will design eco-friendliness into their products and market them in a "my product is greener" manner. The target of the EuP is high-volume consumer products. "Consumers will be able to compare energy and material performance of products—in addition to everything else they compare—when deciding to make a purchase," says Kirschner.
The EuP is just the latest step in an ongoing flow of green pressure points in the electronics industry. Kirschner notes that the EU continues to lead the world in adopting environmental initiatives and other countries will continue to follow along, adopting their own versions of EU directives as they are released.
Design-for-Environment Best Practices
In an effort to track green design developments at global manufacturers, the Electronic Industries Alliance (www.eia.org) tracks innovative best practices in electronic product design with its "Design-for-Environment Efforts of EIA Members" compendium. The idea is to help manufacturers address end-of-product-life environmental issues at the design stage.
The industry group also follows global regulatory developments with its EIATRACK (www.eiatrack.org), a service that tracks, analyzes, reports and provides legal analysis on product-related legislation in the United States and key markets globally.
How Green Are Your Bullets?
When Army officials at Camp Edwards in Bourne, MA replaced their lead bullets with a "green" version six years ago, they thought they were making an eco-friendly improvement. Problem is, the replacement bullet made from nylon and tungsten caused its own set of problems when the tungsten—a metal that isn't supposed to seep into ground water as quickly as lead—was found by the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, NJ to enable lead to move through the soil more quickly.
A million rounds of the "green" bullets have been fired at the base. The aquifer under Camp Edwards supplies upper Cape Cod with drinking water, so there is local concern over the "eco-friendly" bullets. The Army has begun field tests on how tungsten moves through the ground.
SLIME BUSTER: episode 3
Test your knowledge of RoHS and environmental regulationsand save the world from the clutches of the evil Dr. Slime. To play episode 3 of the Slime Buster game, go to http://rbi.ims.ca/4397-510.