HSF History

International Background

The HSF initiative along with the Hazardous Substance Process Management system (HSPM) are programs designed to educate and protect consumers against hazardous substances and then implement the policies and practices to reduce or eliminate them from products. They were developed by the IECQ, which is a Certification System of the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC). The IEC was founded in 1906, in London, UK and today its Head Office is in Geneva, Switzerland (CH). The IEC is one of the International Standardization Bodies recognized by the World Trade Organization (WTO); others include ISO and ITU. The IEC Charter is to promote International Standardization in the Electrotechnical Sectors. The IEC and its certification system (IECQ) is part of a hierarchy of standards, comprised of international, regional and national standards bodies/committees. At the international level are organizations such as International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), International Organization for Standardization (ISO), International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and International Organization of Legal Metrology. At the national level are numerous organizations working to promote standardization compliant with the international and regional standards. The purpose of the International IEC is to promote international co-operation on all questions of standardization and related matters in the field of electrotechnology. (All things Electrical and Electronic) The range of activity addressed by IEC is very extensive and includes all aspects of products and industries involved with electricity and electronics, such as household appliances, computers, electric and electronic components, power generation plants, medical device equipment, batteries, power tools and light bulbs, just to name but a few.

WEEE and ROHS

The two most recognized regulations today concerning control and elimination of hazardous substance are WEEE and RoHS. WEEE focuses on the waste of electrical and electronic equipment and RoHS on the restriction of the use of certain hazardous substances for electrical and electronic products. The easiest way to think about the two regulations is RoHS is concerned with what substances go into the product and WEEE is concerned about what substances are in the product once it's discarded. The Categories of Products covered by RoHS that are required to have restricted levels of hazardous substances are: Large household appliances, Small household appliances, IT and Telecommunications equipment, Consumer equipment, Lighting equipment, Electrical and electronic tools (with the exception of large-scale stationary industrial tools) Toys, Leisure and Sports equipment, Medical devices, Monitoring and control instruments, Automatic dispensers. The Categories of Products covered by RoHS that are required to have restricted levels of hazardous substances are: Large household appliances, Small household appliances, IT and Telecommunications equipment, Consumer equipment, Lighting equipment, Electrical and electronic tools (with the exception of large-scale stationary industrial tools) Toys, Leisure and Sports equipment, Medical devices, Monitoring and control instruments, Automatic dispensers.

The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Law (WEEE) has set collection, recycling and recovery targets for electrical goods and is part of a legislative initiative to solve the problem of huge amounts of toxic e-waste. It is designed to ensure that reuse and recycling that will not harm future generations. Obsolescence of products is becoming a major issue as technology tools continue to accelerate. As an example in the US alone 142,000 computers and 416,000 cell phones are scrapped every day of the year. The US produces 9,315 tons of e-waste daily. E-waste has a major impact on landfills throughout the world. This impact continues as billions of electronic devices become obsolete every year, only to be replaced by the latest technology. If the products becoming obsolete are designed and manufactured to be free of hazardous substances and the waste management of these products includes responsible reuse and recycling, the global impact of obsolescence is significantly reduced.

Benefits

The HSF initiative provides significant benefits to both consumers and product producers alike. It provides a central resource to learn and understand all aspects of the hazardous substance issues and concerns, available resources, plus current certified product types. The HSF program offers both consumers and product manufacturers’ information and support for navigating the complex environment of hazardous substance management. HSF provides consumers with the confidence that the products they are purchasing have been produced under a certified process management system (HSPM) as well as a method for manufacturers to proudly communicate this and announce their commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility to customers. When it comes to the products a consumer purchases or a manufacturer produces and sells to a consumer, the real issue is what type and what quantity of hazardous substances are included. Consumer/customer demand for HSF trend products is changing the global market. Numerous international regulations now exist that restrict the types and amounts of hazardous substances that can be contained in a product, with severe financial and legal penalties involved for any violation of these regulations. This is providing significant incentive for a majority of companies to seriously evaluate their liability concerning hazardous substances and to begin implementing policies and practices that will reduce or eliminate any potential current or future liability. Commonly Used Hazardous Substances When discussing hazardous substances in the context of RoHS, there are six commonly used substances that are included.

These are:

1. Lead (Pb)

2. Mercury (Hg)

3. Cadmium (Cd)

4. Hexavalent chromium (Cr6+)

5. Polybrominated biphenyls (PBB)

6. Polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE)

PBB and PBDE are flame retardants used in several plastics. Hexavalent chromium is used in chrome plating, chromate coatings and primers, and in chromic acid. These substances can be found in products one might expect, such as appliances, electrical & electronic components, power tools, entertainment devices, etc., but also in products one might not expect, such as electrical/electronic toys; musical birthday cards; ink pens, shoes, and earrings containing lights; and paints used for just about anything, just to name but a few.

RoHS and WEEE, along with a variety of other international and national directives and regulations, have been the driving force behind the HSF initiative. Companies must address the issues involved with hazardous substances and implement the policies and practices to reduce or eliminate them from the goods they produce. With HSF, they have a method to readily communicate to their current and prospective customers that the products being produced have been certified as being manufactured in a controlled environment that is attempting to be completely free of hazardous substances. The HSF website provides a central repository for learning about HSF issues, current HSF news and activities and a current list of HSF certified companies. It also provides a vehicle whereby companies can identify products that were manufactured in a Hazardous Substance Process Management (HSPM) certified process and provide customer confidence when making purchasing decisions. Hazardous Substance Process Management (HSPM) is the most widely used global standard for addressing compliance with today's international regulations and standards concerning hazardous substance control is through process management. Formal process management programs such as International Electrotechnical Commission Quality (IECQ) Hazardous Substance Process Management (HSPM) provide an infrastructure to control hazardous substances within an organization. It demonstrates the due diligence necessary to protect from liability. Process management encompasses the entire organization, including the product's customer requirements, product design, material procurement, manufacturing, and delivery to the customer and is the keystone to the Hazardous Substance Free program. When a product manufacturer implements a hazardous substance process management system which has been assessed and certified as being compliant with IECQ HSPM requirements, they are authorized to imprint on the packaging for the products produced under the certified HSPM system with an HSF symbol.

The HSF website provides a central repository for learning about HSF news, issues, and activities and a current list of HSF certified companies. It also provides a vehicle whereby companies can identify products that were manufactured using a Hazardous Substance Process Management (HSPM) certified process and also provide customer confidence when making purchasing decisions. Hazardous Substance Process Management (HSPM) is the most widely used global standard for addressing compliance with today's international regulations and standards concerning hazardous substance control is through process management. Formal process management programs such as International Electrotechnical Commission Quality (IECQ) Hazardous Substance Process Management (HSPM) provide an infrastructure to control hazardous substances within an organization. It demonstrates the due diligence necessary to protect from liability. Process management encompasses the entire organization, including the product's customer requirements, product design, material procurement, manufacturing, and delivery to the customer and is the keystone to the Hazardous Substance Free program. When a product manufacturer implements a hazardous substance process management system which has been assessed and certified as being compliant with IECQ HSPM requirements, they are authorized to imprint on the packaging for the products produced under the certified HSPM system with an HSF Mark.