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CEPN About


Clean Electronics

For Safer Manufacturing

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CEPN About


Clean Electronics

For Safer Manufacturing

CLEAN ELECTRONICS PRODUCTION 

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, SOBrien@greenamerica.org, (802) 479-0317

About the Network

Overview

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 workplace health and safety challenges in the electronics supply 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 alternative substances. We commit to working together to rapidly pilot and refine those solutions, and to scale them up in the service of our shared goal of moving toward zero exposure of workers to toxic chemicals in the electronics manufacturing process.

Developing high-trust relationships between suppliers, customers, workers and advocates and leveraging their diverse talents and perspectives is critical to addressing the challenges facing the technology supply chain. Transparency, information sharing and collective action, even among competitors, enable all stakeholders to more effectively address issues like workplace exposure that no single organization can resolve on their own.

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 have collaborated to develop solutions across five focus areas: Worker Empowerment and Engagement, Tracking and Monitoring Exposures, Qualitative Exposure Assessment, Targeted Safer Substitutions, and Standardized Process Chemicals Data Collection. Our Network prioritizes solutions that address toxic exposures through substitutions or process changes that allow elimination of toxic chemicals use wherever possible. The Network supports the active involvement of workers in identifying issues and opportunities for improvement, within our own work and in the operations of individual facilities or firms.

CEPN is in the process of piloting and other real-world testing of our proposed solutions during 2017. We look forward to providing ongoing updates on our progress, and to sharing insights with stakeholders across the supply chain to foster best practice. We invite interested parties to join us in testing and refining collaborative solutions to reduce and eliminate toxic chemical exposures to workers in the electronics supply chain.


Participants

  • Apple
  • CEREAL
  • Clean Production Action (CPA)
  • Dell
  • Responsible Business Alliance (RBA) / Electronics Industry Citizenship Coalition (EICC)
  • US EPA
  • Fairphone
  • Flex
  • Green Electronics Council (GEC)
  • HP, Inc.
  • International Campaign for Responsible Technology (ICRT)
  • Inventec Performance Chemicals
  • Laborlink
  • Scivera
  • Seagate
  • Social Accountability International (SAI)
  • TCO Certified
  • The Sustainability Consortium (TSC)
  • UC, Berkeley
  • UC, Irvine
  • U-Mass, Lowell

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CEPN Initiatives


CEPN Initiative Groups & Projects

CEPN Initiatives


CEPN Initiative Groups & Projects

Projects and 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 products and 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

Importance: In mature management systems, workers play a critical role to signal and address health & safety issues, including chemical safety. Increasing worker empowerment and involvement should enable more effective adoption of other Network strategies – e.g. risk evaluation, safer substitutions, etc.

This working group addresses the need for a common industry approach to

  1. Measure the current status of worker empowerment and involvement
  2. Provide guidance how facilities can improve to more mature systems

Focus Areas: 

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

Status:

  • First draft of Framework completed and assessed by 8 organizational representatives/teams and 36 workers
  • Framework revisions go out for additional review in October 2017
  • Pilot testing of framework in facilities in November/December 2017

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

Importance: Exposure assessments and objective information on the extent of worker exposures to toxic chemicals are essential to really assess the success of Network efforts to reduce releases and exposures.

Focus Areas:

  • Advocacy for Enhanced Exposure Monitoring – promoting effective tools and evaluation programs (e.g. Qualitative Exposure Assessment) to better identify and prioritize risks
  • Monitoring Technologies – Identifying and compiling information on available and future suitable/applicable instruments for exposure monitoring  Programs – Developing simplified approaches to exposure monitoring that can reduce the barriers to use

Status (September 2017):

  • Review completed of currently available monitoring technologies including appropriate usage
  • Exploration of new and emerging monitoring approaches and technologies ongoing

Track & Measure Exposure


Goal:  Enabling facilities without IH/OHS expertise to identify worker exposure risks and prioritize efforts to eliminate them

Focus Areas:

  • Simplification of and advocacy for Qualitative Evaluation to identify exposure risks
  • Empowerment of facility management to address toxic exposure risks in a systematic way that addresses highest risk immediately and enables planning for sequential elimination of exposures

Status (September 2017): 

  • Simplified protocols developed for conducting a comprehensive facility review of chemicals used, their hazards and potential exposure risks, and prioritizing action to address exposure risks based on that review
  • First round pilot usage completed in several facilities
  • Revised process version moving to testing in additional facilities

Qualitative Exposure Assessment


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

Importance: Substitution and/or elimination of toxic chemicals is a critical factor in moving to zero exposure. Brands cannot do this alone—transparency, collective action, are required for transforming the industry.

Focus Areas:

  • Chemical Packets on key chemicals - including background chemical profiles, process mapping of usage, potential alternatives, and case studies of successful substitutions
  • Testing specific substitutions and documenting learning through case studies
  • Developing and testing a simplified Alternatives Assessment process for use by suppliers without extensive expertise
  • Process Mapping: Documenting reported uses of priority chemicals
  • Initial investigation into possibility of creating a shared sectoral MRSL

Status (September 2017):

  • Preparing to pilot general Alternatives Assessment procedure
  • Continuing to test substitutions, develop case studies and solicit development of additional substitution tests and case studies
  • CEPN MRSL Subgroup formed to draft options for system development

Safer Substitutions


Goal: The process of collecting data on process chemical use is clear, simple, efficient and standardized to reduce effort and increase understanding among suppliers and their customers

Importance: Data collection is the essential first step to identifying risks and opportunities to eliminate exposure

Focus Areas:

  • Develop a standard data collection tool for manufacturers and suppliers to more easily share data on chemicals used in production,
  • Use this standard tool to enable better identification of risks and hazards and foster dialogue between suppliers and brands about elimination, substitution and risk reduction
  • Use a standardized data collection methodology to help reduce survey fatigue and protect intellectual property
  • Advocate for the widespread adoption of the standardized data collection template, with the goal of reducing costs and increasing efficiencies for addressing process chemicals

Status (September 2017):

  • Completed a Standard Operating Procedure for data collection
  • Template finalized and being tested by multiple suppliers
  • Developed user surveys and company evaluation protocols

Standardized Template for Process Data Collection


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Get Involved in CEPN


Get Involved with CEPN

Get Involved in CEPN


Get Involved with CEPN


Participation

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 biweekly as Initiative Groups via video link and conference call, to develop and implement solutions in small groups. Each such group may have multiple subgroups  

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 advanced 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 will be able to access 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.


Interview

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 CEPN@greenamerica.org.