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U.S. Voluntary PFC Emission Reduction Partnership for Semiconductors


Submitting organization USA
Mr. Jeffrey Miotke
Acting Director, Office of Global Change
Department of State
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20520
United States of America
Tel. (1-202)647-1370
Date of submission 16 July 1999
Type Policy and measure, voluntary agreement
Category Semiconductors manufacturing
Gases affected

(reduced, recovered, destroyed, replaced, avoided)

HFC-23; CF4; C2F6; C3F8; SF6 and NF3*

*The Semiconductor industry uses NF3 which has been identified as a greenhouse gas with a 100-year GWP = 8,000 and atmospheric life of 740 years (Molina et al, Geophysical Research Letters, Vol. 22, 1873-6 (1995)) but is not yet listed by the IPCC.

General description In 1996, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) joined with semiconductor manufacturers to form the PFC Emission Reduction Partnership for the Semiconductor Industry. The voluntary partnership aims to reduce emissions of atmospherically long-lived perfluorocompounds from semiconductor manufacturing. Companies joining the Partnership have agreed to work to reduce their emissions by considering the viability of pollution prevention techniques such as process optimization, source reduction, substitute chemicals, recovery/recycling, and abatement. This Partnership is an important step in the U.S. effort to control emissions of long-lived, greenhouse gas emissions.

The semiconductor industry uses HFC-23, CF4, C2F6, C3F8, SF6, and NF3 in two important production processes-- plasma etching thin films and plasma cleaning chemical vapor deposition (CVD) tool chambers. These chemicals are critical to current manufacturing methods because they possess unique characteristics when used in a plasma that currently cannot be duplicated by alternatives. There are no known zero-GWP substitutes for these chemical in these applications. The industry’s technical reliance on high GWP gases has increased significantly in the past several years. This reliance is expected to increase due to rapid industry expansion to meet growing demand for semiconductor devices, and ever increasing complexity of semiconductor devices which require increased PFC use. However, voluntary action through the U.S. semiconductor partnership and global industry collaboration through the World Semiconductor Council is expected to result in significant reductions in emissions by 2010.

The U.S. voluntary partnership is implemented through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) which details the roles of both EPA and the Partner to reduce emissions. The MOU was developed in collaboration with the U.S. Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA). Partners agree to estimate PFC emissions beginning in 1995; estimate annual emissions using an emissions inventory protocol; submit annual progress reports; and set technically feasible, cost-effective emission reduction targets. EPA acts as a clearinghouse for technical information on successful strategies to reduce PFC emissions; provides partners with recognition for their achievements in reducing PFC emissions; serves as a repository for data on the emissions reduction achievements of the partners; and pursues commitments from all manufacturers operating in the U.S. to join the partnership. The tracking and reporting scheme implemented under the Semiconductor Partnership enables participants to document their early contribution to the prevention of global climate change.

In 1998 Japan became the first country to establish PFC emission reduction goals for the semiconductor industry. In that same year, IBM became the first U.S. semiconductor manufacturer to publically announce a comprehensive climate goal including a target for PFC emissions reduction. These actions energized industry to think globally and to use goals to motivate suppliers and customers to support climate protection.

Generally, process tools consume from 15-60% of influent PFCs depending on the chemical used and the process application (etch or CVD). PFC emissions vary depending on a number of factors: gas used, type/brand of equipment used, company-specific process parameters, number of PFC-using steps in a production process, generation of PFC by-product chemicals, and whether abatement equipment has been implemented. Product manufacture and production processes and, consequently, emissions vary widely from fab to fab. To further reduce emission levels, process optimization, alternative chemicals, capture/recycling and effluent abatement are all being considered. The size of wafers being processed in a semiconductor fabrication facility (fab) and the fab’s design and age also have a major impact on PFC emissions reduction technology applicability. Existing fabs may have insufficient infrastructure and space to implement some emission reduction technologies. For new and planned fabs, purchasing state of the art process equipment that optimizes PFC use and employs alternative chemistries is expected to be the best option.

The U.S. Semiconductor Partnership is complemented by global action by the semiconductor industry to reduce PFC emissions. The World Semiconductor Council is coordinating a global initiative to reduce emissions which includes participation of companies in Europe, Japan, Korea, Taiwan and the United States. At their third meeting in Fuiggi, Italy in April 1999, the World Semiconductor Council (WSC) agreed to reduce PFC emissions by at least 10 percent below 1995 levels (1997 for Korea) by 2010. The WSC emission reduction goal will result in significant benefits to the climate and demonstrates the effectiveness of voluntary action by industry and governments. The WSC was formed in 1996 to address market access issues and promote industry cooperation on economic, trade and environmental concerns that face the global semiconductor industry. Through the WSC, the semiconductor industry is working together to develop, evaluate and share information on emission reduction techniques, provide a common message to equipment and chemical suppliers on the need to minimize emissions, and to set measurable emission reduction goals. The WSC includes the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) of the United States, the European Electronic Component Manufacturers Association (EECA), the Electronic Industries Association of Japan (EIAJ), the Korea Semiconductor Industry Association (KSIA), and the Taiwan Semiconductor Industry Association (TSIA). WSC members produce over 90 percent of the world’s semiconductors. EPA and the Japan Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) have actively supported and encouraged the WSC agreement.

Semiconductor industry actions to reduce emissions are outlined as follows:

1980s PFCs identified as effective etch and plasma cleaning chemicals

1990s PFCs identified as potent greenhouse gases

1996 U.S. EPA forms voluntary PFC emission reduction partnership
EPA and MITI organize Japan PFC Pathfinder Meeting
Voluntary partnerships organized in Japan and Europe

1998 Japan announces PFC emission reduction goals for electronics industry
Voluntary partnership organized in Korea
1st International PFC Emission Reduction Conference, Monterey, California
World Semiconductor Council cites PFCs as top environmental challenge

1999 World Semiconductor Council commits to global emission reduction goal
Voluntary partnership organized in Taiwan

U.S. Voluntary Partners

Advanced Micro Devices
American Microsystems (AMI)
Cherry Semiconductor
Digital Equipment
Dominion Semiconductor
Eastman Kodak
Hitachi Semiconductor
LSI Logic
Lucent Technologies
Micron Technology
National Security Agency
National Semiconductor
NEC Electronics
Philips electronics
Rockwell Semiconductor Systems
Sony Semiconductor
ST Microelectronics
Texas Instruments
VLSI Technology

Impacts on ozone depletion none
Impacts on global warming In 1997, U.S. emissions of PFCs from the U.S. semiconductor industry at 1.3 million metric tons of carbon equivalent (MMTCE).
Other environmental impacts

(e.g. toxicity, flammability or other air emissions)

None identified
Economic impacts


With the possible exception of some process optimization, reducing emissions of PFCs in semiconductor manufacture generally requires significant investment. Cost varies with emission reduction method used and the unique circumstances of the individual fabrication facility, e.g. space constraints, age of existing equipment, testing and trials needed to implement emission reduction technology, etc. The coordination efforts of the World Semiconductor Council with chemical suppliers and equipment manufacturers plus the global commitment to an emission reductions target is expected to lower the overall cost of reducing emissions for all manufacturers while maximizing the benefits to the environment.
Timing issues This industry is characterized by rapid technology innovation that is developed through arduous multi-year process design and equipment development procedures. Changes to manufacturing techniques generally require significant lead time and close coordination with equipment and chemical suppliers. Actions taken by the World Semiconductor Council will help ensure cost-effective global implementation of technically feasible emission reductions in existing and next generation semiconductor manufacturing methods.
Examples of application An estimated 90% of global semiconductor manufacture is working to meet the emission reduction target agreed under the World Semiconductor Council.
Regional availability or applicability  
Other remarks The U.S. government coordinates with and supports actions taken by the World Semiconductor Council to implement a 10% absolute emission reduction strategy from 1995 baseline (1997 for Korea) by the year 2010.
Sources of additional information

(what and where)

Sally Rand
Climate Protection Division
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
401 M Street, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20460
tel. 1-202-564-9739; fax 1-202-565-2078
Link to additional information