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Helping standards developers address environmental issues
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Increasingly, governments are announcing plans to reduce their carbon emissions and transition to renewable energy. Industry is re-evaluating supply chains. Consumers are seeking the right to repair products and opting for a lifestyle that embraces sustainability.

Recognizing that standards can help to address the protection of the environment against the potentially detrimental impacts from electrotechnical products and systems, the IEC set up the Advisory Committee for Environmental Affairs (ACEA). The below (abridged) interview with ACEA Chair, Solange Blaszkowski, provides insight into its work.

What is the role of ACEA?

ACEA provides advice to standards writers on how to incorporate environmental matters in their publications. We offer a forum for the discussion of these issues amongst IEC committees (TCs/ SCs/SyCs) and coordinate IEC work to ensure consistency and avoid duplication or conflict in IEC publications. However, we do not write standards, which is the responsibility of IEC committees. Instead, we develop guides to ensure that standards developers address issues that have an impact on the environment.

ACEA is in the process of developing a number of new guides. Can you tell us more about the new guidelines for defining halogen content terminology in IEC publications?

Guidance is needed in order for the terminology used for halogen-related provisions to be uniform and clear. Careful consideration is also needed when selecting test methodology to determine halogen content. As a result, ACEA is developing a guide for standards developers on this topic.

Credibility is another issue that ACEA is addressing. Why is it important to develop a guide on this topic?

We need to maintain or perhaps regain the trust of users in environmental performance claims about products. Environmental performance related test standards should therefore provide users of products with the same level of certainty as, for example, that for safety.

This guide, entitled Securing the credibility of IEC publications containing environmentally relevant provisions, will explore the concepts of real-life representativeness and anti-circumvention in addition to classic measurement principles (such as reproducibility, repeatability and accuracy), and cost. By reducing the scope for greenwashing, it increases trust in IEC publications.

ACEA is also undertaking a major revision of IEC Guide 109, Environmental aspects – Inclusion in electrotechnical product standards, and is developing guidelines to support the implementation of IEC Guide 108.

The third edition of Guide 108 defines the rules for addressing horizontal functions and horizontal publications. ACEA is preparing guidance in support of its implementation as it relates to environmental aspects, including defined processes, requested information, definitions, etc.

Regarding Guide 109, the revisions will include information on new topics such as the circular economy, risk management, climate change and renewable energy.

In what ways is the work of ACEA relevant to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)?

The UN SDGs recognize that sustainable development requires economic growth, social inclusion and environmental protection. In order to achieve economic growth and sustainable development, we must reduce our ecological footprint by changing the way we produce and consume goods and resources, and the way we use resources to produce energy. The efficient management of resources and the way we dispose of waste and pollutants are important targets to reach these goals. ACEA helps IEC committees develop standards that can attain these objectives.

The full interview is available in e-tech.

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