iNEMI Members Release Position Statement on the Definition of "Low Halogen" for Electronic Products

HERNDON, VIRGINIA (July 1, 2009) — The International Electronics Manufacturing Initiative (iNEMI), an industry-led consortium, today released a position statement that defines “low-halogen” (BFR/CFR/PVC*-free) for electronic products.  iNEMI members supporting the statement include:  Cisco, Dell Inc., Doosan Corporation, HP, Intel Corporation, Lenovo, Nan Ya Plastics Corporation, Senju Comtek Corp., Sun Microsystems Inc., and Tyco Electronics Ltd.

For PCBs and substrate laminates, iNEMI members define “low halogen” as containing no more than 1500 ppm of total halogens in the resin plus reinforcement matrix, and no more than 900 ppm (each) of bromine or chlorine (per IPC-4101).  For components, each plastic in the component should contain less than 1000 ppm of bromine if the source is from brominated flame retardants (BFRs), and less than 1000 ppm of chlorine if the source is from chlorinated flame retardants (CFRs), PVC or PVC copolymers.

“Dell and the other companies supporting the iNEMI position feel that it is important to have a common definition of ‘low-halogen’ electronics to enable industry initiatives and supply chain conversion to ‘low-halogen’ products,” said Scott O’Connell, environmental strategist for Dell, chair of iNEMI’s Environmentally Conscious Electronics Technology Integration Group and co-chair of IPC’s Low-Halogen Electronics Standard Task Group.

“A common definition of maximum halogen levels for components and materials will enable development of compliant material sets,” said Robert Pfahl, vice president of global operations for iNEMI.  “The limits that we are recommending for bromine and chlorine are the same as the limits currently included in the proposed IPC/JEDEC standard J-STD-709.**  This standard is still in the balloting process, and our members support the standard with the maximum levels currently defined — i.e., the January 2009 draft — and as outlined in our position statement.Our members believe it is important to get a definition in place at this time to ensure a consistent approach as they move forward to remove halogenated materials from their products.”

“Halogenated materials have been engineering materials of choice for several decades and have proven to be reliable and cost-effective,” continued Pfahl.  “As the electronics industry seeks to further reduce the overall environmental impact of our products, we are working to develop reliable and cost-effective alternatives to these materials.  While substitution opportunities are increasing, we expect applications such as complex multi-layer PCBs to require further investigation and qualification of new materials, which makes a timetable for broad-scale adoption of halogen-free materials difficult to predict.”

“Intel is committed to reducing our environmental footprint, having already removed halogenated flame retardants from our component products,” said Martin Rausch, general manager, SMTD for Intel Corporation.  “A common definition of ‘low halogen’ helps ensure that an industry transition to these new materials will not fragment due to competing requirements.  This, in turn, will speed the delivery of robust product solutions to the market.”

“Tyco Electronics has been actively supporting the ‘low halogen’ initiative for several years and has significantly expanded our low-halogen product offerings,” said Dave Bender, director or product compliance for Tyco Electronics.“  A consistent definition of ‘low halogen’ is critical to effectively communicating requirements throughout the supply chain, and Tyco Electronics endorses the definition included in the iNEMI position statement and in the proposed IPC/JEDEC standard J-STD-709.”

iNEMI BFR/CFR and PVC-Free Activities

In April, iNEMI announced its new HFR-Free***Leadership Program through which several of the consortium’s OEM and supply chain members are working to assess the feasibility of a broad conversion to HFR-free PCB materials.  Activities are focusing on conversion to HFR-free and making sure that solutions are based on sound science and do not affect product quality or reliability.  Two projects have been launched, and a third one is currently organizing.

The HFR-Free PCB Materials Project plans to identify technology limitations involved in transitioning to HFR-free PCB materials.  The team will identify key mechanical performance characteristics and determine if they are in the critical path for the HFR-free PCB material transition.  The initial focus will be on delamination, via and PTH reliability, pad cratering, and solder joint reliability.

The HFR-Free Signal Integrity Project will focus on ensuring there is no degradation of electrical signals in HFR-free PCB materials.  Plans are to investigate permittivity and loss as well as how they are impacted by moisture absorption in new HFR-free materials.  

The PVC Alternatives Project will evaluate alternatives to PVC (including additives) in electronic cable and wire applications using a life cycle assessment (LCA) approach.  The project is expected to launch in the third quarter of this year.  

About iNEMI
The International Electronics Manufacturing Initiative’s mission is to identify and close technology gaps, which includes the development and integration of the electronics industry supply infrastructure.  This industry-led consortium is made up of more than 65 manufacturers, suppliers, industry associations and consortia, government agencies and universities.  iNEMI roadmaps the needs of the electronics industry, identifies gaps in the technology infrastructure, establishes implementation projects to eliminate these gaps (both business and technical), and stimulates standards activities to speed the introduction of new technologies.  The consortium also works with government agencies, universities and other funding agencies to set priorities for future industry needs and R&D initiatives.  iNEMI is based in Herndon, Virginia (near Washington, D.C.), with regional offices in Shanghai, China and Limerick, Ireland.  For additional information about iNEMI, visit
*     BFR = brominated flame retardant
      CFR – chlorinated flame retardant
      PVC = polyvinyl chloride

**   IPC/JEDEC J-STD-709, Limits for Bromine and Chlorine in Flame Retardants and Polyvinyl Chloride in "Low Halogen" Electronic Products (proposed standard for ballot, January 2009)

***HFR = halogenated flame retardant

For further information:
Cynthia Williams
+1 207-871-1260