Computers, tablets and other IT products we use daily contain chemicals that are in many cases harmful to people and the environment. For instance, flame-retardants in plastics prevent the product from catching fire and phthalates are used to soften the insulation of the cables.
A proposed Swedish chemical tax on electronics misses the mark on the environment, by instead focusing on revenue generation. The tax is only aimed at substances whose negative effects are already known, while giving a pass to untested substitutes that can pose even greater health and environmental risk.
In the first of our 2016 Sustainable IT webinar series, from February 18 we found out more about toxics in IT-products. Our speakers were Marlene Ågerstrand, Researcher at Stockholm University and Niclas Rydell, Director, TCO Certified at TCO Development.
Harmful halogenated flame retardants have been mostly phased out of products certified to TCO Certified. However, they have often been replaced with potentially harmful non-halogenated flame retardants where little information about their safety is available. For the new generation TCO Certified, we only accept non-halogenated flame retardants that have been reviewed using GreenScreen® for Safer Chemicals.
We will be publishing on-demand versions of the presentations from Sustainable IT Summit 2015 in 3 parts. In part 2, Dr. Mark Rossi from US-based Clean Production Action provides an overview of GreenScreen for Safer Chemicals
Economic measures are an effective way to drive change, for example reducing the content of hazardous substances in our products and environment. Sweden’s government is currently considering a proposal to introduce a tax on certain consumer products, including electronics, that contain potentially hazardous chemicals.
One of the major changes proposed in the new generation TCO Certified is a fresh approach to reducing hazardous substance content in computers, displays and other electronic devices. Moving away from focusing on banned substances alone, the draft proposes the addition of an Accepted Substances List, specifying substances that have been evaluated and declared as safer alternatives.