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  6. Reducing Hazardous Substances in Products

Reducing Hazardous Substances in Products

The Nikon Group strives to reduce hazardous substances and to implement measures for all products, including the items listed below, in order to comply with international regulations for hazardous substances. As a result, we have achieved, for example, 100% conformity with the revised European RoHS Directive* which took effect as of January 3, 2013 by domestic law in Member States.

  • *RoHS Directive

    “RoHS” stands for “Restriction of Hazardous Substances.” This directive was adopted by the EU in 2003. It restricts the use of certain hazardous chemical substances in electrical and electronic equipment with a view to minimizing the risks that these substances pose to the environment and human health. The RoHS Directive was revised in 2011.

Discontinued Use of Ozone-layer-depleting Substances

The Nikon Group gradually decreased the use of ozone-layer-depleting substances (HCFCs) as refrigerants required to regulate the temperature for semiconductors and FPD lithography systems until finally discontinuing their use for equipment shipped in and after the year ended March 31, 2009.

Development of Lead-and arsenic-free Glass

Recognizing that the lead and arsenic used in most optical glass posed serious environmental problems related to product, the Nikon Group developed a lead-and arsenic-free glass in the 1990s. Since then, we have promoted its extensive use in the optical components for all Nikon products. Today, we have achieved nearly 100% usage of lead- and arsenic-free glass with the exception of some products with unique specifications for industrial use. In the year ended March 31, 2014, the ratio of lead- and arsenic-free glass* in new designs were 100% for consumer products.

  • *Lead-and arsenic-free glass

    For the optical glass used in the lenses and prisms of optical instruments, Nikon has developed a new type of glass that contains absolutely no lead or arsenic. The proportion of lead-and arsenic-free glass is 100% for almost all Nikon products.

Full-scale Adoption of Lead-free Solder

Under the leadership of the electric technology departments of Nikon Corporation and Sendai Nikon Corporation and in collaboration with the product development and manufacturing departments, other Group companies, and its business partners, the Nikon Group has established a lead-free soldering system. Instead of lead-based, we use lead-free tin-silver-copper solders, which represent the standard solder type used in the industry. The properties of the materials used in lead-free soldering, such as the narrow range of allowable temperatures, mean that manual soldering requires a high degree of skill. For this reason, the Nikon Group added a course on lead-free soldering to its in-house training and technical certification system and has already trained numerous instructors and certified technicians. By implementing measures such as these, we have striven to increase the use of lead-free solder. We have achieved 100% lead-free circuit boards for all our consumer products, including digital SLR cameras, which form our core product category. In principle, we have also eliminated lead from new circuit boards used in industrial products (such as steppers and scanners, microscopes, and surveying instruments).

Use of Hexavalent Chromium-free Technology in Surface Treatment

Having reviewed its technologies and processes for chromate treatment and chrome plating, Nikon Corporation's surface treatment department discontinued the use of highly hazardous hexavalent chromium at the end of 2004. By applying the department's innovative findings and accumulated expertise, we have established hexavalent chromium-free surface treatment technologies in all Nikon product categories.

The Nikon Group has established a strict technical standard to discontinue the use of heavy metals (hexavalent chromium, lead, cadmium, and mercury) in all surface treatment processes including coating, plating, and chemical conversion. To ensure that this technical standard is practiced rigorously in all product categories, we, in cooperation with our various business partners contracted to perform surface treatment processes, take all possible steps, including individual technical assistance, strict on-site audits, and checks based on chemical analysis of actual items.

Chemical Analysis Techniques Used by the Quality Assurance Departments

The Nikon Group is in the process of discontinuing the use of hexavalent chromium, lead, cadmium, mercury, PBB, PBDE, PVC, and other hazardous chemical substances in all of its products. Since Nikon products are made from an astonishingly large number of materials and components and pass through the hands of numerous business partners before reaching completion, it is essential that we inspect various materials using chemical analysis to fully eliminate the use of hazardous chemical substances in Nikon products in addition to establishing a green procurement system. We have therefore introduced chemical analysis technologies to our quality assurance departments and other departments involved in the production of Nikon products. We also educate our engineers on analysis technologies and the related know-how to prevent hazardous chemical substances from making their way into Nikon products.

Response to Regulations on Hazardous Chemical Substances

At present, new regulations on chemical substances are being enacted around the world. Backing up this trend is the tremendous progress that has already been made toward the establishment of an international framework for the appropriate management of chemical substances. Significant milestones include the announcement of the Rio Declaration* in 1992, in which the “preventive approach” was proposed, and the adoption of the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation* and SAICM*. The Nikon Group is striving to manage chemical substances in line with the established international framework and to ensure compliance with related laws and regulations in order to protect human health and reduce environmental risks.
Among the new regulations, the European RoHS Directive and the REACH Regulation* have had a considerable impact on the international regulation of chemical substances to the extent that it is now essential that manufacturers manage the use of chemical substances in their products. The Nikon Group has been utilizing information technology to survey the use of hazardous chemical substances in its products and to manage the relevant information throughout its supply chain, thereby complying with the RoHS Directive, REACH and other international regulations on hazardous chemical substances in a strict, prompt, and efficient manner.

  • *Rio Declaration on Environment and Development

    Declaration composed of 27 principles that was made at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1992.

  • *Johannesburg Plan of Implementation

    This plan, which was made in 2002, sets out the specific issues to be tackled by governments of each participating country for the achievement of the following target: “By 2020, chemicals are used and produced in ways that lead to the minimization of significant adverse effects on human health and the environment.”

  • *SAICM

    The Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management, an international agreement on the management of chemical substances made to achieve the target of the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation.

  • *REACH Regulation

    A regulation on chemical substances issued by the European Union (EU) in 2007. “REACH” stands for the “Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals,” and manufacturers and importers of chemical substances are mandated to register information on the safety and use of these substances under the regulation.