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The Green Machine Challenge

Got HIPAA and SOX under control? Get ready for environmental issues, which are looming on the horizon as another big financial and logistical headache for storage managers and CIOs. (See Compliance Remains Elusive Target, Top Tips for Compliance , and Hospital Skirts Compliance Meltdown.)

The prime mover behind this trend is the European Union, which introduced its Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) directive last year in an attempt to ensure that hardware is free of toxic substances, such as lead and mercury. Penalties for failing to comply with RoHS vary among member states, although manufacturers are liable to fines and even prison sentences.

As a result, suppliers with international reach such as Dell, McData, Quantum, and Xyratex have been scrambling to make their products RoHS compliant. (See McData Announces Earnings, Xyratex is Compliant, and Quantum Reports Fiscal Q1.)

Although there is no similar federal legislation in the U.S., a number of states are already making moves in this direction. Last week, for example, California's version of RoHS, the Electronic Waste Recycling Act (EWRA), came into force.

At this point, California's Act is less comprehensive than the E.U. directive, focusing mainly on laptops, computer monitors, and cathode ray tubes, although it is widely regarded as the catalyst for tougher regulations across the U.S.

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