A Strategy for Material Supply Chain Sustainability: Enabling a Circular Economy in the Electronics Industry through Green Engineering
Rapid innovation in the field of electronic technologies through the use of rare earth and specialty elements (RESE) has made the electronics industry one of the most rapidly evolving industries to date. However, innovations to harvest these same materials from complex waste streams have not kept pace, thus leading to an unsustainable material supply chain reliant on the mining of increasingly difficult-to-extract ores. Here, we aim to provide a strategy to mitigate these challenges, identifying the technical research and development needed to further sustainable electronics through Green Engineering and the vision of a “circular economy”. This strategy includes (1) design devices for disassembly, (2) materials for substitution, (3) manufacturing processes that enable the use of recycled materials, (4) fabrication efficiency, (5) technology interventions to enable e-waste recovery, (6) methods to collect and separate e-waste components, (7) technologies to digest and recover RESE, and (8) technologies to separate commercially desirable, high-purity outputs.
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