13 Oct 2023 -

Sustainability and ESG shift the dynamics of electronics design

Design decisions at the outset can seal up to 80% of an electronic product’s environmental footprint, states the European Commission. It’s this early-stage decision-making that governs the product’s longevity, repairability, and end-of-life destiny.

With electronic waste escalating globally, electrical engineers are becoming pivotal in promoting a circular economy within the electronics sector. According to a recent electronics industry survey, engineers are increasingly focusing on long-term sustainable designs.

Among the range of sustainability-led design strategies are:

  • those that focus on product longevity, power efficiency, and reduced energy consumption throughout a device’s life cycle;
  • designs that facilitate recycling (60%) and reuse (57%);
  • wireless connectivity to enhance device sustainability by improving energy efficiency through intelligent operational patterns.

While the transition is not universal, a promising 78% of respondents are actively incorporating sustainability into their plans, primarily in response to consumer demand. The survey findings highlight strides in crafting electronics that not only last longer and consume less power but are also recyclable, upgradable, and more.

Contrarily, the survey comments that amidst challenges like supply chain disruptions, sustainability wasn’t always a priority for engineers. But with these disruptions easing, there’s a renewed focus on sustainability. “As the pandemic-related supply-chain challenges lessen, there is an opportunity to refocus on sustainable design efforts,” noted Avnet’s spokesperson for the survey, Stacy Mendez. For many engineers, the push towards sustainable electronics design stems significantly from customer demand, with 40% confirming this influence.

Considering the broader picture, sustainability goes beyond mere component assembly. It’s about cohesive collaborations throughout the supply chain. “The disruption of the past few years has underscored the importance of understanding an organisation’s supply chain,” remarks Mendez. Insights into supply chains can significantly shape sustainable design decisions, from raw material sourcing to end-of-life recycling or reuse of products.

A pivotal aspect of this paradigm shift is the end-of-life (EOL) management of components. Although many engineers are gravitating towards sustainable design, managing component EOL remains a unique challenge, needing extensive resources and logistical efforts.

For more help with looking at supply chain and EOL management, contact Astute Electronics

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