Electronic Product Design

Tuesday, 29 March 2016 00:00 Written by 

Greener Electronics

29-03-16 - greener electronics 200Sustainability and efficiency are two words we often see nestled together, even throughout this blog. There is a global understanding that we need to focus our energies on creating new stepping stones for the electronics industry, and moving into a future where renewables, sustainability, ecology, and efficiency will be continually under scrutiny, it pays to start thinking and acting before too long.

Green Electronics Council

The Green Electronics Council is a non-profit organisation. They hope to inspire electronic product designers and manufacturers to engage with environmental standards throughout the entire spectrum of electronic technologies. Their operations include EPEAT, a global rating system for greener electronics, as well as engaging global green electronic thought leaders and influencers in environmental design, strategies, and policies to inform a more sustainable industry.

The GEC have had several major wins in their lifetime. EPEAT is one of most notable. While not enshrined in law, EPEAT has forced a number of major electronics producers, designers, and manufacturers to consider their products against the wider backdrop of a greener global community. So while they may not be legally obliged to commit to any green standards, consumer awareness is forcing the electronics industry hand.

Standards

As mentioned, there are currently no legally enforceable standards for electronics companies to adhere to, but the GEC is working on changing this. Environmental leadership standards are at the front of their thoughts, and talks are underway in at least four niche development areas: servers, mobile phones, photovoltaic cells, and updates to Computer/Display standards. The impact of increased awareness is unclear, and difficult to quantify precisely (given the differences between electronic products), but GEC’s Jeff Omelchuck estimates some 467,000 metric tons of waste have been avoided.

Ringing the changes

TThe electronics industry is sitting up and taking note of evolving consumer concerns. As the global community continually increases its use of electronic products, designers and engineers are researching and exploring new materials aimed at drastically reducing the imprint of the industry. However, it isn’t always as easy as we would like to believe. Rapid changes come with their own problems, and in some cases manufacturers and designers are finding it difficult to adjust existing designs to account for consumer demands: recyclable plastics, rechargeable batteries, extensive life-cycles, and responsibly sourced metals to name but a few. The transition toward a greener electronics industry is underway, and will be driven by our rising population, increasing affluence – and hopefully not continually decreasing product lifespans.


Image courtesy of FrameAngel / freedigitalphotos.net.

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