Sustainable Electronics: Sustainability in Electronic Manufacturing

The capacity to develop new product alternatives that manufacturers are seeking, launch a new product and update your company are all made possible by sustainable electronics manufacturing.

Pressure from customers, the effects of newly regulated laws, and the strain of a planet’s finite natural resources. The effort to produce more environmentally friendly electrical items is no longer a public relations endeavour. Creating more “circular products” becomes a moral and legal need. And soon, it will be a need for the economy. So how can you ensure designs for electrical items are optimised for sustainability? What knowledge and skills are required?

 

What is Sustainable Manufacturing?

Sustainable manufacturing is a strategy used in the manufacturing industry to ensure that goods are designed for optimum efficiency, prolong their lifecycles, recyclable, and have the least pollution possible.

 

The Effects of Producing Sustainable Electronics on the Environment

The European Environment Agency (EEA) estimates that over 10 million tonnes of discarded electrical and electronic equipment (often referred to as WEEE or e-waste) are generated annually in Europe alone. Unfortunately, only 40% of it is collected for recycling (Huisman et al., 2017). Similar statistics may be found around the world. For example, only 29% of the e-waste produced by the $206 billion consumer electronics purchases made in the US in 2012 was recycled.

Every year, more typical household devices are added to the list, including TVs, projectors, amplifiers, smart watches, sound systems, VR headsets, pcs, laptops, monitors, LCDs, Diodes, and phablets. The list is endless. People throw away these devices at the first sign of trouble, whether it’s a malfunction, diminished performance, or just the existence of a newer model. The economics of  sustainable electronics encourage disposal, so it’s not always just laziness or a desire for the future. For instance, purchasing a new printer is more cost-effective than buying fresh ink cartridges. Almost all cases, a gadget cannot be fixed for less than its replacement cost.

Therefore, it is anticipated that the production of e-waste will rise, and we won’t see the necessary rise in recycling without changes to collection infrastructure and more consumer awareness.

 


What Advantages Make Green Manufacturing Practices Offer?

 

The most evident advantage of sustainable electronics manufacturing is its capacity to draw in more customers and attract more business. It’s not the only one, though. Additional benefits of increasing sustainability in your business include the following:


Lower Costs

Going green in your manufacturing processes may result in significant financial savings and, in certain cases, can be simple to implement. For instance, installing energy-efficient lighting may significantly lower your long-term power expenditures. In addition, over time, there can be significant savings to be had by reducing trash disposal requirements and water use.

 

A smaller network of vetted and reliable suppliers will cost less than a more extensive network of occasional suppliers. Local delivery equates to less expensive distribution.

 Brand Recognition

 

Businesses that are good at what they do and for the causes, that matter to them are the ones that people want to do business. The impression of your manufacturing brand may be improved by establishing your firm as a leader in environmental protection. Sustainable brand recognition can be important for the general success of your company.

 

Engaging New Employees

 

The industrial skills gap is widening as seasoned workers retire from the workforce. Your business may suffer if you do not have the necessary expertise available to take on and complete these crucial duties. Showing your dedication to the environment is one of the most acceptable methods to attract the upcoming workforce.

 


How Can You Practice Environmental Responsibility in Electronics Manufacturing?

 

Given the manufacturing market’s competitiveness, you must take every possible measure to establish a competitive edge. One method to achieve this is to embrace sustainability and eco-friendly practices.


Examine Your Present Environmental Impact


Understanding your current condition is the first step you must take to become a more sustainable organisation. First, analyse your energy use to start. Then, evaluate the utilisation of these sources in your manufacturing processes and any potential environmental effects.

 

Consider the materials you employ on the shop floor as the last step. Are they harmful or recyclable? How crucial are they to the manufacturing process? These inquiries might help you better understand your current position and available solutions. Once you are aware of where your company stands, you may take action to make your facilities more environmentally friendly. Fortunately, you may start small and make gradual, smart gains rather than having to take big leaps.



Reducing Waste


Utilising machinery should be done efficiently. Not within a room? Intend to dim the lights. Recycle your paper and plastic. These are little, everyday alterations that don’t significantly advance the cause, but they unquestionably fit into the “every little bit helps” category.

 

Take your raw material purchases and use, for instance. Investigate strategies to utilise any raw materials you do not use if you just require a portion of them. Work with nearby shops to see if they can utilise the extra supplies and if they have any you might use as exchanges.

 

Your ability to think sustainably will improve due to regular resource monitoring, which will also help you make more extensive, better adjustments.

 

Recycling Packaging

 

You should think about using raw materials while constructing electrical and electronic equipment. Less waste will be produced and financial and environmental advantages if fewer materials and distinct types are used throughout the lifespan of products. You should try to keep the design minimal and with as few parts as possible.

 

When thinking about packaging design, you should also think about product design. In addition to providing options for reusing the packaging after the product reaches the consumer, this can help you use less packing overall.

 

PCB Board Recycling

 

Small quantities of recyclable copper are present in scrap bare PCBs. They typically contain very little gold, silver, or tin. Most of the bare PCB is made up of FR4 epoxy glass laminate, which cannot be broken down into its parts for recycling. Therefore, the sole component of value is the copper content.

 

To make recycling cost-effective, PCBs must be combined into manageable bulk numbers, such as 50 to 100kg; otherwise, freight costs will be higher than the scrap value of the metal retrieved.

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