According to analysts at Boston-based AMR Research Inc., small- to medium-size enterprises (SMEs) have not been able to keep up in the shift to environmental compliance. With less little more than nine months left until the RoHS deadline of July 1, 2006, lagging companies present much of the electronics industry with a real problem. “Large companies are really attacking compliance,” says Eric Karofsky, senior research analyst at AMR Research. “They may not be 100 percent compliant, but they have an articulate strategy, they understand the risk, and they’re comfortable with their position. But the SMEs are having problems.
Karofsky notes that smaller companies are still don’t have a good understanding of the road to compliance. “They’re asking very basic questions about environmental compliance, and it’s late. This is a tremendous problem,” says Karofsky. “One of the biggest concerns is the even the large companies are not 100 percent compliant and that’s because they depend on the smaller companies.”
Karofsky attributes the lag in small companies to their shortage of resources needed to address compliance. “It comes down to the fact that large companies have the ability to spend the money,” says Karofsky. “They have the overhead, the legal and engineering staff, and they have membership in industry organizations.” He notes that another factor that favors large companies is their ability to bring pressure on their suppliers to go green. “The big OEMs have influence over their supply base,” says Karofsky. “They can dictate that their suppliers use RosettaNet to deliver all of the required compliance data.
Karofsky’s research indicates that large companies are prepared for RoHS all along the supply chain, whether they’re component suppliers, distributors or OEMs or EMS providers. Large companies are better prepared across the board,” says Karofsky. Large companies tend to have a culture that is more geared to environmental compliance, and they have the funds to assess the risk [of not being in compliance]. Small companies lack the funds.”
He notes that some of large companies such as Texas Instruments and General Electric have put together green programs independent of governmental dictates. “Some companies are more environmentally conscious than others,” says Karofsky. “GE and TI are pushing to produce environmentally clean products because they have a culture that is more sensitive to it.”