From the Director, Aaron Zude (December 2008)


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From the Director, Aaron Zude (December 2008)

Thank you all for the feedback on my list of the top 7 EHS issues that SEMI should address. In case you missed the last EHS Advantage newsletter, the issues I briefly highlighted were:

    1. Expectations for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) or “Sustainability”

    2. Expectations for Producing “Green” Products

    3. Climate Change (Global Warming)

    4. Worldwide Increase in Chemical Regulation and Control

    5. Chemical Information Management and Communication across the Supply Chain (and Beyond)

    6. Occupational Safety and Health

    7. Growth of the Photovoltaic (PV) Manufacturing Industry

Most feedback indicated that these are the “right” issues for the SEMI EHS Division to address. There was one suggestion to add an equipment end-of-life issue to the list, but I believe that this could be rolled up under Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) or “Sustainability”.

A Comprehensive Supply Chain Sustainability Initiative

That brings me to this month’s topic… SEMI’s plans for responding to the need for a comprehensive supply chain sustainability initiative.

First, let me address definitions. My contention is that it doesn’t matter whether your organization calls it sustainability, sustainable development, corporate social responsibility (CSR), social responsibility (SR), business continuity planning (BCP) or something else. What is important is that we talk about putting a mechanism (program) in place that fosters a business culture which integrates environment and economics during business decision-making. The term “environment” can mean occupational safety and health, environmental protection, business ethics, and/or labor (human rights of workers) standards.

For the purposes of SEMI activities, “environment” means safety and health and environmental protection, and we are currently calling such efforts “sustainability”. From the International Institute for Sustainable Development (www.iisd.org), here is the definition of sustainability that I like the best:

    “Sustainable development means adopting business strategies and activities that meet the needs of the enterprise and its stakeholders today while protecting, sustaining and enhancing the human and natural resources that will be needed in the future.”

As a matter of interest, sustainable development has been defined in many ways, but the most frequently quoted definition is from “Our Common Future”, also known as the Brundtland Report:

    "Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. It contains within it two key concepts: the concept of needs, in particular the essential needs of the world's poor, to which overriding priority should be given; and the idea of limitations imposed by the state of technology and social organization on the environment's ability to meet present and future needs." (World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED); Our Common Future. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987 p. 43)

The SEMI sustainability initiative cannot be viewed as a set of program activities carried out by a single enterprise in isolation from the rest of the supply chain. In other words, we’re all in this together.

With that in mind, the current plan for responding to the need for a comprehensive SEMI supply chain sustainability initiative is to expand the existing Global Care program as the "vehicle" for driving sustainability program activities among SEMI members. The key points of this effort are:

    • No duplication of sustainability efforts already underway through the WSC, ISMI, JEITA, and others
    • Development of a sustainability “toolbox” for engaging small- to medium-sized SEMI member companies. (Key components: entire supply chain emphasis; articulation of the sustainability “business case” (value proposition); focus on energy conservation, water conservation, chemical management, solid waste reduction, and recycling; and educating member companies how to calculate, monitor and reduce)
    • Publicize successes
    • Utilize larger companies as mentors and role models
    • Leverage the current efforts of existing CSR organizations to strengthen the Global Care program

The current strength of the Global Care program is that it provides a broad framework for companies to work towards improving EHS management, practices and systems through: publically committing to implementation of the five Global Care principles:

    • Workplace Health and Safety
    • Resource Conservation
    • Product Stewardship
    • Community Service
    • Excellence

The program also requires that companies demonstrate a high-level corporate commitment and systematic approach to fulfilling the principles (Implementation Plan); reporting on tangible results of practices and progress under each principle (Annual Survey); and appointing a Global Care liaison to support commitments and work with other Global Care members in strengthening the initiative.

The weakness of the Global Care program is that it does not provide self-assessment or quantitative measurement "tools" for companies to use in baselining performance, establishing goals and metrics, or systematically auditing performance. To fill this gap, the EHS Division is currently talking with several electronics and chemical industry CSR organizations as possible “sustainability partners”. The goal is to establish an arrangement for SEMI Global Care members to utilize the resources available through these organizations (for example self-assessment and quantitative measurement tools) to enhance their sustainability programs.

In addition to expanding the Global Care program, the SEMI roadmap for sustainability in 2009 includes activities to:

    • Support sustainability goals and activities of the SEMI Regional Offices (through regional sustainability committees)
    • Support energy conservation workshops at SEMICON Korea, China and Taiwan
    • Host a silicon manufacturing EHS best practices workshop at SEMICON China
    • Improve the "greening" of SEMICON events through expanded use of renewable energy and introduction of a mechanism for offsetting SEMICON vendor and visitor carbon footprints
    • Hosting Global Care sustainability "how to" workshops
    • Coordinating executive-level "sustainability summits" at SEMICON West and SEMICON Japan.

As you can see, our sustainability plate is full. As always, your comments and input are welcomed.

For more information, please contact Aaron Zude at azude@semi.org.