Sustainable Electronics Initiative

Welcome to SEI

The Sustainable Electronics Initiative (SEI) at the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC) is dedicated to the development and implementation of a more sustainable system for designing, producing, using, and managing electronic devices.

About SEI

Flame Retardants Continue to Ignite Controversy

Flame Retardants in Printed Circuit Boards Partnership IconDuring Pollution Prevention Week back in September, I wrote a post for the Great Lakes Regional Pollution Prevention Roundtable (GLRPPR) Blog on the environmental and human health impacts of flame retardants. In that post I talk about decisions by major health systems to stop purchasing furniture treated with flame retardants in response to the adverse effects associated with many of these chemicals, and describe the compounds as an illustration of the importance of employing source reduction and safer alternatives during product design and manufacture.

Recently, flame retardants have been in the news again in the last few months, as 16 companies and organizations signed the Center for Environmental Health (CEH) Purchaser’s Pledge, committing to specify and purchase furniture products that meet flammability standards without the use of chemical flame retardants.

Recent research has shown that Michigan’s bald eagles are among the most contaminated birds on the planet when it comes to phased-out flame retardant chemicals in their livers. Despite being phased-out, the flame retardants in question are persistent and bioaccumulative, meaning that top-predators like eagles continue to deal with exposures from the past.

Additionally, on December 15th, the US EPA Design for Environment Program announced an updated draft report of the DfE Partnership to Evaluate Flame Retardants in Printed Circuit Boards.

From the DfE web site: “The purpose of this alternatives assessment is to provide objective information to help members of the electronics industry more efficiently factor human health and environmental considerations into decision-making when selecting flame retardants for PCB applications. This draft assessment provides updated human health and environmental information on flame retardant alternatives to tetrabromobisphenol-A (TBBPA) for use in circuit boards. TBBPA is one of the most commonly used flame retardants for printed circuit boards in electronics. The report includes a description of differences in combustion by-products from burning printed circuit boards containing alternative flame retardants at temperatures simulating uncontrolled recycling or incineration. In parallel with this draft assessment, industry trade groups tested alternative non-halogenated flame retardants and found that they function equally as well or better than TBBPA-based circuit boards for certain products.”

This updated draft assessment is available for public review and comment until February 15, 2015.  There’s still time to provide your input. Please submit comments to Docket NO. EPA-HQ-OPPT-2014-0893 via www.regulations.gov.

For more information on the DfE draft assessment, see http://epa.gov/dfe/pubs/projects/pcb/, or contact Emma Lavoie.

ISTC Webinar: How Sustainable is Information Technology?

http://www.istc.illinois.edu/images/parts/ISTClogo.gifJoin SEI’s parent organization, the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC) for a webinar this Thursday, February 12, from 12:00 – 1:00 pm CST. Our presenter will be Eric Masanet – Morris E. Fine Junior Professor in Materials and Manufacturing and Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Chemical and Biological Engineering, McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science, Northwestern University. Dr. Masanet will discuss How sustainable is information technology? Trends, challenges, and opportunities.

Abstract: The growing numbers of information technology (IT) devices—and the environmental impacts associated with their manufacture, use, and disposal—are topics that have received much attention in both the media and research communities. While the environmental footprint of IT devices is indeed significant, each new device generation typically brings substantial operational energy efficiency improvements. Furthermore, a singular focus on their direct impacts ignores the indirect environmental benefits that IT devices might provide by improving societal energy and resource efficiencies. A growing body of research suggests that such benefits might be substantial across the economy through such applications as replacing physical goods with digital services, building controls for energy efficiency, and real-time logistics optimization. This presentation will review the life-cycle impacts of IT systems, discuss trends in these impacts as a function of technology progress and growing consumption over time, and highlight the challenges and opportunities associated with managing and reducing the environmental impacts of IT systems moving forward.

Register for the webinar online at https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/7017258394988082434. This webinar will be broadcast live and also archived on our website at http://www.istc.illinois.edu/about/sustainability_seminars.cfm for later viewing.

To view details and registration information for other upcoming ISTC seminars please visit our calendar.

View Older Posts at the SEI Blog Archive

Illinois Sustainable Technology Center

Donate/Recycle Electronics

Find out where to recycle or donate your old electronics or find options near you at earth911.com.

2013 International Sustainable Electronics Competition

International E-Waste Design CompetitionWinners were announced at ISTC on December 5, 2013. Read the press release here. View the winning videos here.

 

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GLRPPR

Great Lakes Regional Pollution Prevention Roundtable

The SEI has partnered with the Great Lakes Regional Pollution Prevention Roundtable (GLRPPR) to create a sustainable future.