Chemical Substance Management

Use of Safer Chemical Substances

A variety of chemical substances are added to products to ensure their quality and safety. However, with the advancement of scientific hazard risk analysis, although the use of certain chemical substances is an acceptable risk today, a judgment may be made in the future that they must be regulated or banned, obviating the possibility of product or part recycling. Therefore, the use of safer chemical substances will help in the recycling of resources.

As an international well-known brand of electronic products manufacturer, ASUS supports the precautionary principle set forth in the Rio Declaration of United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED). We expect that the regulations on chemical substances will become stringent. On the other hand, existing products or parts may contain potentially harmful chemical substances, and it might fail to comply with the regulations when they are discarded for recycling and thus could not enter the circular economy. Therefore, in addition to comply with the global regulations on chemicals substances, we also voluntarily control chemicals that possess potential risks to humans and environment.

ASUS has formulated internal Hazardous Substances Free (HSF) standards by integrating global chemical substance control trends. Since it complied with the Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive (RoHS) in 2004, it has been engaged with stakeholders to gradually tighten self-requirements and autonomously ban substances, including beryllium, antimony, and red phosphorus that are of concern and pose potential risks to the human body or environment. In 2018, we further demonstrated our determination to promote green products by raising the technological standards to the high threshold of the eco label.

In general, the eco label requires the use of safer substances for products to endow them with better environmental characteristics. We are adopting stricter self-requirements, which will drive the supply chain to improve the processes and carry out corporate sustainable transformation. Meanwhile, we have established a sound and complete hazardous substance management system; through the inspection and testing of third-party laboratories; review of ASUS’ specialized personnel; and auditing and final review of the management system, products are designed based on the environmentally friendly concept and are safe for both the human body and the environment when provided to consumers.

With this comprehensive management, ASUS products can comply in advance with the global regulations on hazardous substances and enjoy the reduction of environmental tax in some countries, which has enhanced the competitiveness of green products. This not only contributes to the safeguarding of the environment but also brings benefits to ASUS’ operations. For example, ASUS’ long-term halogen-free strategy enables our products to enjoy a reduction in environmental taxes in Sweden of more than $2 million.

By using environmental friendly materials at product design phase, we not only drive the industry to enhance in the supply chain, but also improve the reuse value of and applicability of product wastes, facilitating the new material cycle. ASUS uses 4 management levels - GA, HF, EL and HE - to control the hazardous substances.

"GA" is the fundamental requirements of ASUS. We combine industry regulations and trends of relevant non-mandatory control on chemical substances to formulate an internal technical standard which covers and manages more than 300 chemical substances, and further control the use of beryllium, antimony and red phosphorous in advance. In addition to restricting the use of hazardous substances, we also cooperate with our supply chain to evaluate the alternative chemicals to further reduce the environmental impact brought by the current usage.

"HF" is an abbreviation for Halogen Free Halogen Free, which is one of the key target of ASUS’ chemical management. In order to reduce the environmental hazard of halogen flame retardants in plastic materials, ASUS's voluntarily reduces or prohibits the use of related halogen flame retardants in the components.

"EL" is the management level with requirements based on global eco label standards so that ASUS products could be qualified to join international green procurements.

"HE" is the highest management level covering the previous 3 management levels. Over the years, we have developed innovative technologies with our suppliers, driving them to improve the environmental characteristics of the provided components and products, as well as the management. In 2016, up to 91.7% of newly-recognized parts were higher than the "GA" management level, and more than 56% of newly-recognized parts reached "HE".

Hazardous Chemical Substance Management

To safeguard human health and the environment, ASUS uses all chemical substances carefully. We follow regulations that control their use, formulate technical standards that strictly require our suppliers to forbid their use. ASUS defines a hazardous chemical substance as a material characterized by persistent, bio-accumulative, toxic, carcinogenic, or mutagenic features, as well as possible reproductive toxicity or environmental hormone disruption.

Regarding hazardous chemical substances management, ASUS is committed to meet the regulations of international chemical substances as the primary goal. All ASUS products manufactured since 2006 met the requirements by RoHS (Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive 2002/95/EC). In addition to Pb, Cd, Hg, Cr6+, PBBs, and PBDEs restricted by RoHS, and DEHP, BBP, DBP, DIBP by RoHS 2.0, we further manage Ni, Be, Sb, PVC, TBBP-A, ozone depleting substances, radioactive substances and other harmful substances. When the alternatives are available, we will gradually replace PVC, BFR, CFR in PCB and external wire.

In order to comply with EU REACH Directive which went effective in 2007, ASUS takes the manufacturer responsibility for disclosing the information of SVHC in our products. Please click HERE for the related information.

According to our Precautionary Policy for Green Design, we control the hazardous substances from sources - that is, of the enormous supply chain. To improve efficiency, we use eGreen platform, SRM, for component approval process and ask our suppliers to provide the third-party test report along with the hazardous substances warranty letter. This could efficiently manage our green supply chain and ensure our green quality.

ASUS Hazardous Chemical Substance Management Milestone

ASUS' Halogen-Free Policy

The halogens or halogen elements are a series of nonmetal elements from Group VIIA of the periodic table, and the halogenated compounds such as Brominated Flame Retardants (BFRs) and Chlorinated Flame Retardants (CFRs) are widely used as the materials of the parts for electronic products, as the gluing technique, or as flame retardant for its effectiveness and economic advantage. The halogen flame retardants have application in extensive fields due to their low dosage, high flame-retardant efficiency, good compatibility, and relatively low cost. However, products containing BFRs or CFRs have not been properly recycled after use, and are proven to release Dioxin and Furan during waste incineration. Dioxin compounds are stored in biological fat, are hard to be metabolized, and will be cumulated through the food chain, thus leading to biological genetic damage and even causing cancer. Halogen-containing parts cannot be reused due to the erosion of halogen acid, which is also contrary to the idea of the circular economy goal.

According to the recent scientific researches, many halogenated compounds are proven to be potentially harmful to the human and the environment. Among the halogenated compounds, Polybrominated biphenyls (PBBs) and Polybrominated diphenylethers (PBDEs) may interfere with brain development and is carcinogenic, thus they are listed in EU RoHS Directive. In addition, TBBP-A (Tetrabromobisphenol-A) is one kind of BFRs and is used in the electronic products for its effectiveness and economic advantage, but it could pose great destructive impacts to the ecosystem. Another halogenated compound Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is very popular worldwide for its convenience, stable characteristic and low price. Nevertheless, the plasticizer (phthalate) added during using stage will interfere with biological endocrine, and dioxin and hydrochloride produced by incineration at the disposal stage could cause serious environmental pollution.

Based on the precautionary principle, ASUS has defined many halogenated compounds such as BFRs, CFRs, TBBP-A and PVC as hazardous substances and includes them into our internal standard "Hazardous Substance Free Technical Standard" and formulated "Halogen-Free Technical Standard" according to IEC-61249-2-21, which define the allowance concentration of halogens as followed: 900 ppm max for Cl, 900 ppm max for Br, and 1500 ppm max for total halogens.

After investigation, communication and assistance to the supply chain, ASUS has formulated "ASUSTeK GreenASUS Halogen-Free Technical Standard" in 2008 and encouraged our suppliers replacing halogen flame retardant with low environmental impact substances such as nitrogen compounds, phoshorous compounds, hydrates. We have phased in halogen-free on components with high risk, such as PCB laminate, plastic parts greater than 25g, and cable assembly. In 2009, we had introduced some halogen-free sample models to the market. Beginning from September 1, 2010, all newly purchased components, except system modules, PCBs, connectors and cables that still possess technical difficulty and are not economical viable, need to compile with halogenfree policy. ASUS is committed to continuously increase the proportion of halogenfree components used in new products if alternative technologies are feasible and the technologies will not affect product performance, quality, health and the environment. We seek continuous increase of at least 3% annually, preferably 5%, with the goal of more than 85% halogen-free components by 2020.

Learn more:

In addition to the products, we are also working toward PVC reduction and removal of chlorine bleach processes for paper packaging materials. Before we can overcome the shortcomings of PVC substitute materials in the wires, including easy yellowing, reduced elasticity, and being easy to break, ASUS still treats quality as a priority. Therefore, we started by eliminating PVC in the internal wires in notebooks, which will be extended to other product parts gradually in the future. More than 80 % of the internal wires of the notebooks sold in 2018 no longer contained PVC. In 2018, the overall PVC consumption decreased by 18.2 % compared to 2016.

Chlorine Reduction Policy in Packaging Material

If chlorine is used in the paper-bleaching processes, it will produce toxic chlorine-containing organic compounds such as chloroform, dioxin, and other carcinogens. The accumulation of these in the environment will pose a risk to the organisms, environment, and human body. To promote the reduction of the total amount of chlorine used and the chlorine-free bleaching technology and policy in upstream pulp and paper mills, ASUS began to require paper packaging material manufacturers to ban the use of chlorine-bleached papers in 2018.

To learn about the policy, objective and achievement, please click HERE.

Other Chemical Substances Management

According to ASUS Precautionary Policy, we not only banned substances that restricted in global regulation such as RoHS and REACH, but also controlled any substance that pose a threat to human health or the environmental. ASUS hold to a rigorous standard of environmental compliance as GreenASUS HSF Technical Standard to remove and replace toxics further and include them in our supplier contracts.

Beryllium is Alkaline-earth metal and belongs to Group IIA of the periodic table. The substitutes are not found yet for its good metallic characteristic. Beryllium oxide has good performance in electrical physics, thermal physics and mechanical properties, so it is important to the use of electronic products. However, beryllium has an adverse impact on the human body during exploitation or waste disposal. In animal experiments, beryllium and its compounds is carcinogenic and toxic. ASUS had listed beryllium as Level 1 restricted substance, which meant immediately prohibit of usage, by early 2013.

Antimony belongs to Group VA of the periodic table. Antimony trioxide is used for flame retardant. It is very popular in the market for its good characteristic and thus is difficult to phase out in a short-term. However, it could stimulate the respiratory and gastrointestinal and is toxic, and it is also a carcinogenic substance. In early 2013, ASUS had listed antimony as Level 1 restricted substance, but with exemption in certain parts.

Full Material Declaration

The global regulations will become stricter and that the chemical substances to be regulated will continue to increase. When we encounter a new requirement for a substance to be controlled, we are obliged to conduct the source investigation and analysis, and such a passive response requires higher labor costs to manage ASUS’ supply chain. Therefore, in 2018, ASUS launched a full material declaration mechanism to change our substances management strategies from passive to active control. We have completed the full material declaration of notebooks through cooperation with partners in the supply chain.

The full material declaration can help ASUS:

  • Understand the distribution of substances used in products
  • Prevent the blending of harmful materials to achieve the purpose of controlling hazardous substances through collecting the information on the chemical composition and content of products and of materials
  • Integrate chemical management into product design and select environmentally friendly materials
  • Further use material assessment tools, such as GreenScreen, to identify risk levels with the aim of helping adopt safer substances as a replacement for potentially hazardous chemicals

To increase the effective management period, the full material declaration will be gradually expanded to personal computer product line to gradually reducing the environmental impacts and actively achieving the goal of sustainable self-management of chemical substances.