A Sustainable Approach to Manufacture and Trade
Last summer I was fortunate to attend the Action-Reaction Conference on Developing a Sustainable Approach to Emerging Chemical Issues in Baltimore, Md. The event, organized by the American National Standards Institute and sponsored by a number of manufacturing corporations and standards developing organizations, including ASTM International, was created to address emerging regulatory restrictions on the use of certain hazardous substances in a wide array of manufactured products.
Faced with proving compliance in short time frames with regulations such as REACH, RoHS and WEEE,1 original equipment manufacturers and companies that form the links in their supply chain find themselves facing puzzling questions about how to interpret the regulations, show compliance, protect proprietary information and myriad other issues.
At the conference I was impressed by the cooperative spirit among attendees. Of course the people working in the trenches are interested in creating communication tools and otherwise cooperating with each other so that they can comply with the regulations. But there was also a desire for cooperation with the fact and spirit of the regulations themselves. Once getting beyond the initial burdens of showing compliance in order to trade within the regions impacted by the regulations, the attendees were more than willing to spearhead future design and manufacturing innovations with the environment in mind.
This spirit of cooperation and forward-thinking was embodied and encouraged by three leaders at the conference, Michael Kirschner of Design Chain Associates; Nina McClelland, conference chair and retired chairman, president, and CEO of NSF International; and Michael Taubitz of General Motors. Supported by conference attendees, these three suggested the formation of the ANSI/National Association of Manufacturers Network on Chemical Regulation, which has ongoing phone and in-person meetings to ensure a unified and coherent industry response to emerging chemical regulation. In this issue, we interview Kirschner, McClelland and Taubitz to plumb the depths of their understanding of how chemical regulation is impacting manufacture and trade. The interview also includes a sidebar that describes the standards-based work of ASTM Committee F40 on Declarable Substances in Materials, which was formed in 2005 to address these very issues.
Indeed, the work being done by industry to help ensure not only uninterrupted trade, but also a safer environment is truly impressive, and I hope you’ll learn more about it by checking out the interview.
1 Registration, Evaluation and Authorization of Chemicals (REACH), Restriction of the Use of Certain Hazardous Substances in Electrical and Electronic Equipment (RoHS), Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (WEEE)