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Opportunities for improving sustainability and circularity for electronics

Opportunities for improving sustainability and circularity for electronics
Hakola Liisa

VTT

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Opportunities for improving sustainability and circularity for electronics

The EU is proposing a Regulation on Ecodesign for Sustainable Products (ESPR) that sets requirements for all products in the EU market to become more sustainable, circular, energy-efficient, and environmentally compatible. The EU has specified electronics and ICT sector as one of the priority sectors that the ESPR will regulate. The current electronics industry causes significant direct and indirect environmental impacts, such as the formation of electric and electronic waste (e-waste), great demand for critical raw materials (CRMs), and high energy consumption during manufacturing. Therefore, actions are required to meet the requirements from the upcoming regulation. The electronics industry has several opportunities to increase its sustainability and circularity. These include among others (1) shifting from fossil-based, critical and rare materials to renewable, bio-based and abundant materials; (2) utilization of additive manufacturing processes that offer material and energy efficiency; and (3) utilization of circular economy business models for extending product use life with e.g. reuse, repair and recycle concepts. Since typically 80% of the environmental impacts are determined during the design phase, the product design is a critical stage when targeting more sustainable products that must balance between cost, performance, and sustainability aspects. This masterclass specifies sustainability (environmental, social, economic) and circularity for electronics industry, covers areas with opportunity for more sustainable approach, highlights means to improve environmental sustainability (green electronics), and discusses the relevant regulatory aspects.

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