Environmentally Friendly Products and Green procurement
Development of Environmentally Friendly Products
NEC reduces the environmental footprint of products over their entire life cycles, from procurement through to customer use and disposal of products. In these activities, we have added to our long-standing emphasis on quality, cost, and delivery an emphasis on compliance and ecology—including resource circulation, global warming prevention, and environmental awareness.
Framework for Developing Eco Products
Environmentally friendly products, software, and services that meet NEC's environmental standards are certified and registered at three levels.
Eco Products are products that have been confirmed as meeting all of the Eco Product standards—which are basic requirements—in product assessments conducted by each business division during new product development.
Eco Symbol products are Eco Products that meet the Eco Symbol standards, which require products to be even more environmentally advanced and environmentally friendly.
The Eco Symbol Star is assigned to Eco Symbol products that are regarded as leading environmental products which conform to stringent standards, such as 50% reduction in CO2 emissions compared with that of conventional products.
Products conforming to the aforementioned standards are affixed with the Eco Symbol Star mark on product catalogs and on websites.
Examples of Eco Symbol Star Registrations
NEC IoT Sensor Data Visualization Service
—Making on-site information visible to support the creation of safe, reliable work environments—
The NEC IoT Sensor Data Visualization Service is an adaptation solution that promises to mitigate risk associated with heat waves,*3 one of the risks posed by climate change according to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Over the past decade, the number of extremely hot days has increased, and rising temperatures due to climate change are one of the causes of heat stroke. Particularly in work environments that are prone to high temperatures and high humidity, management of workers' health is required. Until now, managers have maintained safety by periodically checking the temperature and humidity of work sites, but this takes a considerable amount of time and effort.
Our new service supports the collection of data on work environments' temperature, humidity, illumination, and air pressure. Without changing networks or other on-site environments, the service automatically collects the on-site data needed to create a safe, reliable work environment and visualizes the data through cloud computing, thereby allowing customers to receive real-time alerts remotely. By prompting appropriate measures in response to situations—such as the adjustment of temperatures and humidity at work sites or rehydration—the service's alerts are expected to prevent or reduce the risk of health hazards and illness caused by heat waves.
What is more, the collected data can be utilized to help manage work environments and improve the work efficiency of managers.
- *3A fuller description of this type of risk is the risk of death or illness due to heat waves, particularly among vulnerable groups in urban areas.
Environmental Compliance of Products
Compliance with Regulations on Chemical Substances Contained in Products
NEC strives to comply with both Japanese and international regulations regarding chemical substances. To ensure that we comply with global regulations such as the European Union's Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) Directive and Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction on Chemicals (REACH) regulations, and the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) in the United States, we promote the exchange of information on chemical content throughout the supply chain as well as the enhancement of NEC's internal information management system.
Our approach toward the exchange of information on chemical content is not to introduce individual rules but to employ the common use of chemSHERPA, a scheme for the sharing and exchange of information on the chemicals contained in new products in supply chains compliant with international standard IEC 62474. Such an approach improves the work efficiency of those giving and receiving information while allowing both to respond more quickly.
NEC has built a compliance structure using chemSHERPA-CI*1 and chemSHERPA-AI,*2 which are operated by JAMP.*3
- *1Sheet for entering information on the chemical substances contained in a material or prescription to ensure compliance with laws and regulations
- *2Sheet for entering information on the chemical substances contained in the formed articles to ensure compliance with laws and regulations
- *3JAMP: Joint Article Management Promotion–consortium
Risk Management for Chemical Substances Contained in Products
Complying with the EU RoHS Directive
The EU RoHS Directive bans, in principle, the inclusion of 10 substances, including lead, mercury, and cadmium, in electrical and electronic products. NEC requests its suppliers to comply with the EU RoHS Directive in products that they supply, and conducts surveys to determine whether purchased parts and materials contain any of the banned substances. These efforts ensure that NEC branded products comply with the EU RoHS Directive, in principle.
Progress of replacement initiatives
The NEC Group is moving forward to replace chemical substances in compliance with the restrictions put forth by the EU RoHS Directive. Hexavalent chromium plating in the treatment of steel sheets and plates is being substituted by trivalent chromium plating, organic film, nickel plating, and stainless steel.
Pigments and paints have been changed to materials that do not contain lead, cadmium, or hexavalent chromium.
Lead solder has been replaced with lead-free solder.
Procurement of parts and materials containing polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) and polybrominated biphenyl (PBB) has been banned since 1997, and other flame retardants are used instead.
NEC had already prohibited the inclusion of four phthalic acid compounds in purchased products one year before the enforcement of a law banning them, and has made progress in replacing them.
Management of exceptions
The EU RoHS Directive includes exceptions where the inclusion of prohibited substances is permitted under certain conditions. These can be used within a legally allowed period, but they must be replaced at an appropriate time.
NEC manages risks using an internal system called CHEMSIS, which centrally manages information on chemical substances contained in purchased products collected with chemSHERPA-AI, and then automatically determines whether contained substances exceed threshold values and the time limit on exemptions. At the same time, we ask suppliers to comply with the end of exemption periods six months in advance.
Confirmation by analysis
For purchased products that are deemed to be high risk, we obtain analysis data from the supplier, and when necessary, conduct our own individual analysis to confirm that prohibited substances are not contained in the products. The NEC Group has introduced fluorescent X-ray analysis systems in its production plants to create a system for confirming that certain prohibited substances, such as lead, cadmium, mercury, and hexavalent chromium, are not contained in the products.
Complying with EU REACH Regulations
The EU REACH regulations identify restricted substances that may not be included in products and Substances of Very High Concern (SVHC), which may be included but require provision of information to product recipients if they exceed a certain threshold value.
NEC uses chemSHERPA-AI to request provision of the above chemical substance information from its suppliers and manages the response information obtained centrally on its internal green procurement support system, CHEMSIS, to control the presence of restricted substances and SVHC in excess of threshold values. NEC then shares this information with sellers in the EU.
Complying with other global regulations
In addition to the EU RoHS Directive and EU REACH regulations, NEC's business divisions all work together with local subsidiaries and relevant industry organizations in Japan and abroad to comply with regulations on chemical substances contained in products applicable to each respective country, including China and the United States.
Environmental Initiatives in Supply Chains
NEC aims to reduce the environmental footprint of its products throughout their life cycles. NEC asks its suppliers to behave responsibly as corporations by the NEC Group Procurement Policy and Guidelines for Responsible Business Conduct in Supply Chains. We are working in close collaboration with our suppliers to promote green procurement.
NEC is making a Companywide effort to promote "green procurement," which involves giving priority to the procurement of items that are environmentally friendly. Our objectives are to expand the green product market to building a recycling-oriented society, to promote the development of recycling-oriented products for such a society, and to raise awareness among designers and developers.
Aiming to make all of our products environmentally friendly, since fiscal 2007 we have been promoting procurement (including procurement of software and services) from suppliers certified as "green."
NEC Green Procurement Standards
To promote green procurement, we have established the NEC Green Procurement Standards.
Each of items (V-1) through (V-14) defined as an environmental code of conduct in “Guidelines for Responsible Business Conduct in Supply Chains” is the NEC Green Procurement Standards.
Guidelines for Responsible Business Conduct in Supply Chains (CN)
Details of appropriate management of chemical substances contained in products, one of the NEC Green Procurement Standards, are set forth in “Environmental Specifications Pertaining to Procurement Restrictions”.
“NEC Green Procurement Guidelines (for suppliers) (Document Number : KANKANTU-02-044) ”, which defined the NEC Green Procurement Standards, is now out of use and integrated to “Guidelines for Responsible Business Conduct in Supply Chains (Document Number : CHOUSHI 2022-01)“.
Enhancing Engagement with Suppliers
In fiscal 2023, throughout its supply chains, NEC identified and assessed risks by conducting a survey of sustainable procurement covering about 1,000 of its suppliers.
We increased the number of questions about the environment to 40 by adding a significant number of questions related to CO2 emissions reduction and the status of biodiversity risk assessments to this survey. The additional questions complemented conventional questions about the status of initiatives to control and reduce environmental impacts, ranging from the establishment and operation of environmental management systems and proper management of chemical substances to water consumption and waste generation.
Our efforts to enhance engagement with suppliers feature initiatives that support collaboration and co-creation specifically linked to climate change countermeasures. These initiatives include adding our five-stage STEP program of activities to reduce
CO2 emissions to the Guidelines for Responsible Business Conduct in Supply Chains that we require suppliers to follow.
In addition, in December 2022 and February 2023 we held briefings on STEP 1 (reduction policy formulation) for roughly 600 suppliers, explaining why initiatives are necessary and how to proceed with policy formulation, and provided examples of initiatives.
We will continue to work with suppliers to reduce environmental risks by working to understand the actual state of environmental issues throughout the entire supply chain and taking corrective action.
Briefing for suppliers