Seagate uses a variety of different materials to make its products, and in order to manage product environmental impacts, we strive for a complete understanding of material and chemical content. To achieve this, Seagate works with suppliers to obtain full disclosures on every part and material included in our drives. This information is maintained in a database and is accessible as new material and chemical concerns arise. We also use tools such as life cycle assessments (LCAs) to understand the environmental impacts of our products.
Seagate’s key product sustainability challenges include the management of materials identification, conflict minerals and restricted substances. Another inevitable challenge: The mining and smelting of materials for Seagate products-as well as product use-contribute to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and other environmental impacts.
Seagate places a high value on assessing product impacts and communicating them transparently. Maximizing sustainability through product stewardship is an ongoing goal.
Our analysis suggests that energy consumption and resource depletion represent Seagate products’ greatest environmental impacts. The greatest energy consumption occurs during the extraction and processing of minerals for product components, customer use of products and product transportation.
We conduct LCAs according to ISO 14040 standards in order to construct an estimate of each product’s impact on the environment. Our LCAs encompass 15 impact categories, from GHG emissions to health impacts to resource depletion. Each LCA is reviewed by a third party and addresses impacts at each stage in the life of a product, from extraction of raw materials to end-of-life disposal and recycling. We prioritize which products undergo LCA efforts based on production volume and customer data needs.
Conflict minerals are a significant challenge facing many industries. Illegal mining of tungsten, tin, tantalum and gold (3TG) metals from small–scale mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo has contributed to a decade–long civil war, forced labor and child labor in the region. Addressing conflict minerals became an even higher priority in 2012 when the United States Securities and Exchange Commission finalized the rules for the Dodd–Frank Act, Section 1502. The law requires companies to disclose whether any conflict minerals used in their products originated in the Democratic Republic of the Congo or an adjoining country. If so, the companies must describe what efforts they have undertaken to ensure the use of these metals does not contribute to human atrocities in those countries.
As part of compliance with this new edict, Seagate is working with the industry to identify illegal 3TG in its products. We actively participate in the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition (EICC) Extractives Committee, its Due Diligence Subcommittee and the Institute of Preferred Circuits’ Conflict Minerals Data Exchange Standard Committee. Participation in these groups helps Seagate remain informed and maintain standard processes for data collection and quality. In addition, Seagate is working with the EICC on industry-wide mechanisms to certify supply chains, from products to the mines of origin.
The EICC-Global e-Sustainability Initiative Conflict Minerals Reporting Template (“Reporting Template”) is a widely adopted standard throughout the industry for conflict mineral supply chain reporting. We updated our Conflict Minerals Policy and deployed the Reporting Template throughout our supply chain to identify suppliers whose components contain 3TG metals.
As a leading supplier to major original equipment manufacturers, we establish standards for direct materials-the components that make up our products-to meet customers’ strictest specifications.
We are meticulous when it comes to cataloging restricted substances; currently we list more than 2,000 of them. Seagate maintains a database to evaluate ongoing legal and customer compliance and catalogs the Chemical Abstract Service Number for every chemical substance contained within components and products.
In the last few years, consistent with the European Union REACH Directive, we added several dozen new chemical substances to our restricted list and completely eliminated others from Seagate products. We eliminated tetrabromo bisphenol–A, bromine and chlorine from adhesives, inks and other plastic compounds to less than 900ppm. We also have eliminated beryllium and antimony trioxide from hard disk drive products.
Due to their prevalence in the “building blocks” of electronics, restricted chemical substances are often difficult to eliminate. We will continue to add chemicals to our restricted substances list and work with suppliers to identify safer alternatives that serve their needs.
Seagate products become waste at the end of their useful lives. While aluminum and plastic used to make our drives can be recycled, many regions where Seagate products are sold do not have strong electronic waste recycling programs, so Seagate drives can add to the waste stream destined for incinerators and landfills.
Furthermore, because the vast majority of Seagate’s products are sold as components to larger systems produced by original equipment manufacturers, we have less leverage over how our products are managed at the end of their useful life. Therefore, we encourage reclamation, just as we recycle our own internally generated scrap, and urge users of products that include our drives to participate in manufacturer taken–back programs.
For the remainder of our products-our retail products-we currently are investigating product take-back options. In the meantime, we provide customers with drive disassembly instructions to facilitate recycling. We also manage our own take-back program for hard drives under warranty, and 100 percent of these drives are refurbished or, if not repairable, are recycled.