The Gap-Filling Role of Private Environmental Governance: A Case Study of Semiconductor Supply Chain




Three of the principal international agreements that govern various aspects of hazardous substances or wastes are not legally binding on American companies because the US Congress has not passed the requisite implementing legislation. The failure of American companies to meet or exceed the standards set forth in these agreements, although not legally mandated, could be detrimental to American businesses operating on the global stage. The American semiconductor industry responded to this potential disconnect by developing internal firm-specific standards that bind suppliers through supply chain agreements. This Note explores the phenomenon of private standard setting in the semiconductor industry, a prime example of private environmental governance. It seeks to explain how, if at all, private standard setting in the semiconductor industry reflects, undercuts, or fills gaps inherent in the law governing this area in the United States. After looking closely at these standards, this Note recommends two general approaches that will improve upon the current firm-specific toxics standards.

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