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More efficient production of products free of hazardous substances

International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) : 31 October, 2012  (Special Report)
IECQ, the IEC Quality Assessment System for Electronic Components, has published the Third edition of IECQ QC 080000, Hazardous Substance Process Management System Requirements.
More efficient production of products free of hazardous substances

Electronic components can contain hazardous substances such as lead, cadmium or mercury. These substances may be equally dangerous to the workers who manufacture the components as to end-users and the population in general. At the end of a products’ life cycle an additional problem looms: how to manage waste. IECQ QC 080000 provides manufacturers with a tool that makes it easier for them to produce "clean" products and to comply with the increasingly tough requirements and legislation that restrict the use of hazardous substances in electronic products and components.

IECQ HSPM (Hazardous Substance Process Management) Scheme was developed in response to the need of component manufacturers to provide suppliers with the means of demonstrating, through third-party assessment, that their electrical and electronic components and assemblies meet specific local, national and international hazardous substance-free requirements.

The programme helps companies to fully integrate all management disciplines and production processes that are required to manufacture hazardous substance-free products. Today, achieving IECQ HSPM Certification to QC 080000 is the goal of many companies.

“Adhering to IECQ HSPM specification QC 080000 is by far the easiest and fastest way of obtaining certification that a product complies with a given set of requirements” said Chris Agius, IECQ Executive Secretary. “The specification helps companies to demonstrate that they are making conscientious efforts to reduce the use of hazardous materials in their processes and actively replacing such materials with non-harmful alternatives.”

In July 2006, the EU (European Union) RoHS (Restriction of the Use of Certain Hazardous Substances in Electrical and Electronic Equipment) and WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) Directives came into effect. Both Directives have been revised since: RoHS in July 2011 and WEEE in July 2012. Another Directive, REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals), came into force in June 2007. It deals with chemicals and their safe use, so as to improve the protection of human health and the environment through better and earlier identification of the intrinsic properties of chemical substances. Many industrial countries around the world, including Australia, China, Norway, South Korea, Switzerland, Thailand and the United States, are following suit and either developing or established their own legislation.

The Third Edition of QC 080000 clarifies how organisations can use this specification to manage their hazardous substances other than through the outright removal of restricted substances and avoiding their use in products.

Also in the IECQ QC 080000 Third Edition, requirements on restricting the use of hazardous substances in products are supplemented by management requirements on working with such substances. These management requirements will enable an organisation to implement processes that accommodate hazardous substances directives and regulations other than the RoHS. In addition, new requirements in the redefined RoHS, such as compliance assessment, preparation of technical files and of self-declarations, use of markings, change control, product recall, and the communication of information within the supply chain in the REACH Directive can be managed through these new requirements in QC 080000.

Another advantage of the 3rd edition is better alignment and consistency with ISO 9001, Quality management systems – Requirements, in terms of terminology and wordings to facilitate incorporation of the IECQ HSPM requirements into an organization’s existing management system. Some requirements that were published in the Second Edition are clarified and ambiguity has been removed.

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