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Green Electronics: Challenges and Perspectives

Vinicius Silveira Bastos

ECCS 3331: Electronics

In the mid-twentieth century, the called Third Industrial Revolution brought the
advances of electronics to the world, and since then electronics is present in almost one hundred
percent of our activities. On the other hand, according to Sthiannopkao et al. (2012), it is
estimated that an amount of 50 million tons of electronic waste are produced each year.
Andersen et al. (2007) says, The urgency and extent of the e-waste problem calls for efforts to
promote new product designs and production processes of a greener nature. Thus, one very
important aspect regarding to sustainability is finding ways to reduce electronic waste and also
producing components using sustainable components.
This issue became a very important topic when engineers develop designs. According to
Andersen et al. (2007), On the level of Green electronics design the focus is to incorporate life-
cycle environmental aspects into the design of electronic products and production processes,
with the aim of reducing their life-cycle environmental impacts. One problem related to
electronics is related to toxicity of materials. Andersen says that more than 4000 tons of toxic
electronic waste is discarded worldwide every hour. According to him, it is possible to eliminate
dangerous materials harmful lead and bromine using certain types of lead, present on
elements such as free solder pastes, conductive adhesives, halogen-free substrates and
components. According to him, tin-lead solders have been used for a long time in the electrical
industry, because of its many advantages compared to other materials. Therefore, he says that
there is a political ambition to replace use of lead in products wherever possible. According to
him, lead in gasoline and paint has been forbidden in many countries for years and now the time
has come to replace lead in electronics. Beyond this, Andersen cites other greener alternatives,
such as use of lead free solders and metal plate monospheres in anisotropic conductive
adhesives. He also cites use of thermoplastics on green electronic manufacturing.
Beyond using greener electronic components to mitigate impacts on environment,
nowadays Eco-design is related much more embracing fields, such as economy and market.
However, according to Wever et al. (2001), To a consumer a green attribute, such as energy
efficiency may be far more important for one product than another. On his research, he shows
that in most of electronic products consumers dont care about green electronic elements. For
example, consumers care much more about quality of image on a TV than green attributes.
Considering a refrigerator, however, he says that people really care about energy efficiency,
because it interferes directly on finances of the consumer. Wever goes further and says that in
some cases it is better to keep quiet about a products green attributes.
From the papers analyzed, it is possible to observe that green electronics represent a very
important tool to mitigate the effects of electronic waste on environment. Probably it is not too
boldness to say that research and application of greener elements are part of the future of
electronic industry. With each passing day, world community including academic society and
governments search for ways in order to reduce the problem of trash disposed on our planet. As a
considerable amount of this issue is caused by electronics, green electronics represents a very
positive aspect for environment and future market.
However, it possible to see from Wevers research that sometimes green electronics consists of a
negative aspect, not because itself, but because populations behavior. Stevels (n.d.) says that a
small majority of the population is positive or at least neutral towards environmental issues.
From this statement, it is possible to conclude observe that, as market needs to follow trends of
population, engineering designs struggle with limitations imposed by it.


1. Andersen, O., Anderssen, I. H., Liu, J., et al. Advances in Europe - China Green
Electronics Collaboration. Conference: Proceedings (HDP'07). 2007 International
Symposium on High Density Packaging and Microsystem Integration (HDP'07).

2. C. Boks and A. Stevels, Theory and Practice of Environmental Benchmarking in a
Major Consumer Electronics Company, Benchmarking; an international Journal, Vol.
10, 2003, No. 2, pp. 120135.

3. Mueller, J. , Griese, H. ; Schischke, K., et al. Life Cicle Thinking for Green Electronics:
Basics in EcoDesign and the UNEP/SETAC Life Cycle Iniciative. Asian Green
Electronics, 2004. AGEC. Proceedings of 2004 International IEEE Conference on the
Asian Green Electronics.

4. Sthiannopkao S, Wong MH. (2012) Handling e-waste in developed and developing
countries: Initiatives, practices, and consequences. Sci Total Environ.

5. Wever, R., Lotgering, S., Ruijs, F. Green marketing of consumer electronics: applying
Kanos theory of attractive quality on EcoDesign. Proceedings of EcoDesign 2007,
Tokyo, Japan, December 10-13, 2007.