EICC Responsible Electronics Triggers Conversation About Supply Chain Transparency
Global electronics companies joined by academia, international government officials, mining companies, smelters, and NGOs gathered last week for the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition (EICC) Responsible Electronics and Conflict-Free Sourcing Initiative (CFSI) Annual Conference in Santa Clara, CA. Attendee diversity aligned with the conference’s emphasis on positive collaboration, specifically how all stakeholders in global supply chains can work together to create more accountable transparency.
An especially pressing question following the results of the presidential election was asked several times during the conference: How will the outcome of this election affect Dodd-Frank, Section 1502 and other sustainability regulations?
The consensus was that while there is uncertainty surrounding the future of U.S. regulations, the rest of the world will still move forward on human rights and environmental supply chain issues. The European Union and China now have their own regulations surrounding conflict minerals. Many members of the EICC & CFSI have also expressed their continued commitment to increasing supply chain transparency, citing their identity as global companies.
Ensuring transparency for all minerals used in the supply chain, not just 3TG (tin, tungsten, tantalum and gold) was a core priority. The EICC and CSFI have recently co-sponsored the creation of the Responsible Raw Materials Initiative (RRMI), and the IRMA certification will be implemented in 2017. This emphasis on other minerals also included addressing the risks surrounding cobalt mining, which is linked to the worst forms of child labor.
A member of the Ministry of the Mines from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) also announced that the government recently created a commission to address child labor. This commission has been tasked with developing incentives to end the use of child labor in mines, as well as finding alternative livelihoods for the children who work in them.
Multiple speakers from different stakeholder groups reminded conference attendees that when supply chain risks are identified, the goal should be finding solutions for these issues and concerns instead of stopping business.
Five years of collaboration among committed supply chain stakeholders has led to an unprecedented level of visibility and insight into potential supply chain risks. Despite changing regulatory landscapes, progress can and will move forward. Creating accountable transparency requires a multi-stakeholder commitment. Conferences such as EICC Responsible Electronics and CFSI’s annual meeting provide a venue for these stakeholder groups to collaborate, motivate each other on common goals and create solutions.