CEPN Draft 1

Clean Electronics

For Safer Manufacturing


CEPN Draft 1

Clean Electronics

For Safer Manufacturing


GOAL: Move towards zero exposure of workers to toxic chemicals in the electronics manufacturing process.

  • Status: Active
  • Focus Area: Fair Labor
  • Start Date: Summer 2015 - formal Network launch June 2016
  • Contact: Sarah O'Brien,, (802) 479-0317

About the Network



    The Clean Electronics Production Network (CEPN) is a multi-stakeholder Innovation Network, formally launched in June 2016 by the Center for Sustainability Solutions to address complex social and sustainability challenges in the electronics value chain.

    CEPN serves as a platform for collaborative innovation where diverse stakeholders – including technology suppliers, brands, labor and environmental advocates, governments and other leading experts -- work together to understand, address and eliminate worker exposures to toxic chemicals in electronics production.

    Workers in electronics production facilities around the world, and especially in emerging economies, are often involuntarily exposed to toxic chemicals.  The shared mission of CEPN’s participants is to develop solutions that protect the health and safety of front line workers, preferably through elimination and substitution with safer processes and chemical alternatives. We commit to working together to rapidly pilot and refine those solutions, and to scale them up in the service of our shared exposure elimination goal.

    Developing deep, high-trust relationships between suppliers, customers, workers and advocates and leveraging diverse talents and perspectives is critical to addressing the challenges facing the technology supply chain.

    Over the past year, Network members have shared their detailed knowledge of the health and safety hazards posed by chemicals used in electronics production and assembly facilities, and collaborated to develop solutions across five focus areas: Worker Empowerment and Engagement, Tracking and Monitoring Exposures, Qualitative Exposure Assessment Protocols, Targeted Safer Substitutions, and Faster Easier Process Chemicals Reporting.

    CEPN is in the process of piloting or other real-world testing of all our proposed strategies during 2017.  We look forward to providing ongoing updates on our progress, and to sharing our solutions with stakeholders across the supply chain to foster best practice and elimination of exposures.




    *Some participating organizations have chosen not to be identified




    • Concept and 110+ stakeholder interviews (2015)
    • Launch: June 2016
      • Mapping Key Shifts
      • Formation of Initiative Groups and Initial Priorities
    • Development of pilot projects and solutions




    CEPN Initiatives

    CEPN Initiative Groups & Projects

    CEPN Initiatives

    CEPN Initiative Groups & Projects

    Our Projects & Priorities

    Working Goal: Move towards zero exposure of workers to toxic chemicals in the electronics manufacturing process

    Initial Scope

    • Chemical Focus: Chemicals used for bonding and/or cleaning functions across the consumer and enterprise electronics supply chain– and for electronics supplied to other industries, including wearables, automotive, internet of things, toys, medical
    • Hazard & Exposure Focus: Both reducing hazard and reducing exposure
    • Door-to-Door Focus: Includes chemicals workers are exposed to in the production of productsand in usage, handling, circulation and disposal of chemicals in the facility

    Goal: Workers are educated and sufficiently empowered to help protect themselves and others from toxic exposures

    Focus Areas

    • Worker Empowerment Framework: tool for multifaceted assessment of levels of worker involvement in and empowerment around chemical safety and exposure issues in specific facilities
    • Worker Voice: Interviewing and conducting focus groups with workers in electronics facilities to ascertain their interest, perspectives, needs around occupational exposures and empowerment

    Worker Engagement & Empowerment

    Goal: We have a concrete and complete picture of what chemicals are being used and/or generated, what exposures are occurring, and what is the significance of those exposures

    Focus Areas

    • Advocacy for Enhanced Exposure Monitoring - Adoption of tools, piloting programs, implementing methodologies
    • Monitoring Technologies – Identifying and compiling information on available and future suitable/applicable instruments for exposure monitoring
    • Monitoring Programs – Identifying and advocating for participation in exposure monitoring programs 

    Track & Measure Exposure

    Goal:  Enabling facilities without IH/OHS expertise to identify and prioritize exposure risks to workers

    Focus Areas:

    • Developing protocols for conducting a comprehensive facility review of chemicals used and potential exposure risks, and prioritizing action to address exposure risks

    Qualitative Exposure Assessment

    Goal: Identified hazardous chemicals are substituted with “safer” alternatives or eliminated

    Focus Areas:

    • Case Studies & Chemical Briefs for 11 process chemicals
    • Testing/Piloting Substitutions
    • Process Mapping:  Documenting reported uses of priority chemicals and possible substitutions
    • Initial investigation into possibility of creating a shared MRSL

    Safer Substitutions

    Goal: The entire process of process chemical reporting is clear, simple, efficient and standardized

    Focus Areas

    • Data Standardization - drafting and advocate implementation of standardized process chemical reporting to drive global adoption and thereby reduce cost and supplier fatigue, and increase efficiency and data quality
    • Data collection - usability testing of the template with suppliers
    • Advocating for and Incentivizing Reporting - advocate for and create market drivers for data collection and reporting (e.g. unified customer demand, consistency with regulatory requirements)

    Process Chemicals Reporting


    Get Involved in CEPN

    Get Involved with CEPN

    Get Involved in CEPN

    Get Involved with CEPN

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    — Pablo


    Participation in the Clean Electronics Production Network is by invitation only. We seek diverse participants from across the supply chain who are innovators and natural collaborators, who are experts in their segment of the supply chain, held in high regard by their peers, and committed to the goals of CEPN.

    CEPN Participants meet bi-annually in person for a three-day working session. Between meetings, participants meet monthly or biweekly as Initiative Groups via video link and conference call, to develop and implement solutions in small groups.

    The Initiative Groups and their subgroups focus on developing specific solutions, through an aggressive process of prototyping, deploying, testing, refining and reiteration. To make optimal use of participants’ time, Initiative Groups and their subgroups are supported administratively by CEPN staff.

    Participation in the Network is fee-based, with corporate and other large organization participants paying fees based on annual gross revenues. These participation fees support the operation of the network and most importantly, underwrite the participation of social stakeholders and small NGOs.

    CEPN operates under well-defined antitrust guidelines and terms of confidentiality. While participants benefit from sharing insights into their challenges, and work closely together to develop ideas for solutions, no participant is required to expose confidential or proprietary information within network conversations. Members may also undertake bilateral cooperation outside the Network proper, though they are encouraged to share any results within the Network so that others may replicate them.

    Non-member participants may engage with the Network in several ways:

    • Suppliers or brands can volunteer facilities they control for pilot testing of CEPN solutions
    • Any stakeholder may, with advance-notice and a prior interview, seek to attend a biannual meeting in order to learn more about the Network if they are considering participation
    • Following the Network’s first round of pilot testing (anticipated completion, Spring 2018), brand and supplier companies may access select CEPN solutions for deployment in their facilities, as we move to scale up tested strategies for reducing and eliminating worker exposures

    Additional information on participation:



    Student Projects

    CEPN engages with graduate students or graduate student teams on a limited basis for designated projects. If you are interested in learning more about opportunities around student projects, contact us.


    The CEPN team continues to interview expert stakeholders to better understand incentives and barriers to reducing exposure to toxic chemicals in the electronics supply chain. We also continue to grow the network – reaching out to individuals and organizations with demonstrated track records of leadership supporting safe and sustainable workplaces across the electronics value chain. If you're interested in participating in one of our stakeholder interviews, contact us at