Do you know what is in the products you buy? This simple question is one of the most complex issues facing buyers today. From t-shirts to technology, many routine purchases contain materials and chemical substances most people know very little about.

Electronics are no exception, product housings and circuit boards contain flame retardants for product safety, and added plasticizers help make cables flexible. Chemicals are also used in the manufacturing and assembly processes. The problem with these substances is that they come with human health and environmental hazards. Legislation has not done enough to increase transparency around risk or promote safer substitutions.

Only around 1 percent of all chemicals have been independently assessed for human health or environmental hazards. As the use of digital devices grows, an increase in e-waste follows. This leads to an escalation of substances with unknown effects, that may end up in the waste stream where they risk leaking out in the natural environment. Materials that contain unsafe or unknown chemicals are also more difficult to recover, reuse and recycle, which is important to save natural resources

While some hazardous substances have been phased out through legislation, too little is known about the substances replacing them. Regulatory development lags far behind where progress needs to be.

With TCO Certified, we drive a shift towards greater transparency and the use of safer alternatives. The goal is to drive faster progress toward chemical transparency by identifying safer, independently assessed substances that can be accepted for use in certified products. A list of these safer substitutions is publicly available and can be used by anyone, regardless of industry or product area.

The result is groundbreaking, the chemical industry which is known for being secretive about their products is now sharing information, not just public data but also information owned by the chemical manufacturer. Failing to do so leads to a business disadvantage when th