Environment, Health & Safety
Paper originally delivered at the BSSA Conference ‘Stainless Solutions for a Sustainable Future’ held in Rotherham on 3rd April 2003. The paper describes what is happening to the world and what will continue to happen if people do not become more environmentally friendly. I looks at, for example, global warming, the UK’s energy consumption and resource depletion and then goes on to discuss the way forward by using sustainable design, execution and recycling.
The European ‘ELV’ directive 2000/53/EC should not have a detrimental affect on stainless steels intended for applications in automobiles. Analysis work done so far shows that the levels of lead, mercury and cadmium are well below the levels currently understood to be the limits. Stainless steels do not contain hexavalent chromium and so this requirement is not relevant.
Stainless steel products are designed for a long life. Nevertheless, they are readily recycled at the end of their economic life and are a valuable feedstock for the stainless steel producer, thus contributing to sustainable development.
The original version of European directive 2002/95/EC effectively out-lawed stainless steels and many other materials as no lead, mercury, cadmium, hexavalent chromium, poly-brominated biphenyls, (PBB), or polybrominated diphenyl ethers, (PBDE), content was to be allowed in materials that would be part of equipment ‘which is dependant on electric current in order to work properly’. This has now been rectified in the Official Journal of the European Union document C(2005) 3143, 2005/618/EC, published on 18th August 2005, allows maximum levels of 0.1% for all these, except cadmium which is 0.01%, which is the same as in the ELV directive. In stainless steels only the restrictions to the elements lead, mercury and cadmium are relevant. Commercially produced stainless steels can be expected to comply with the amended RoHS requirements, without actual values being measured or declared by the steelmaker or supplier.
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