PWB Environmental Life Cycle Analysis
An environmental life cycle analysis study measures the CO2 emissions and energy consumption associated with the full life of a product including the impact from raw material extraction, manufacturing processes, transportation/packaging, operational life and end of life disposal. The technique is becoming increasingly recognized as an important measure for determining the impact of electrical products. This project focused on the environmental consequences of producing and using printed wiring boards and involved representatives from the complete PWB supply chain.
Throughout the past decade the electronics industry has increasingly had to address the environmental impact of the products that it produces. Initially the focus was on toxicity issues and in particular eliminating the presence of hazardous materials within the products that can create health issues during service life and end of life disposal. Legislation has addressed many of these issues and attention is now turning to energy consumption of electrical designs as well as environmental considerations associated with the production cycle from raw materials through to final assembly.
More recently the concept of measuring the complete carbon/energy footprint of a product across its complete life cycle has been gaining popularity as a more balanced and accurate way of evaluating the impact that a product has on the environment. An environmental life cycle analysis assesses the impact (CO2 emissions, energy consumption, and toxic impact) of a product throughout all phases of its existence. This includes extraction and refinement of raw materials, processes and process chemicals used to produced components and sub-assemblies, final production, transportation, associated packaging, in use power consumption and disposal processes and by products.
- Understanding the environmental impact of electronic products throughout their life cycle is still in its infancy but is becoming of increasing interest to the industry and its customer base.
- To date, from an environmental perspective, producers have primarily focussed on compliance with legislation addressing the removal of toxic substances from products, in use energy consumption and end of life disposal. Attention is now turning to carbon footprint studies and more general life cycle assessments of the environmental impact caused by products. This encompasses product manufacture considerations as well as service life and disposal.
- An assessment by the project team of activities within the industry has concluded that the results of studies to date on the PWB fabrication and related upstream materials production processes do not provide the level of detail and accuracy needed by HDP User Group members participating in this project.
- Detailed (product design specific) data is needed from the discrete process steps of the PWB fabrication cycle that capture energy usage and associated C02 impact. In addition, similar data is needed from the production processes for materials and process chemicals used by the PWB industry.
- Additional information is also required on air emissions, water consumption, effluent discharges and disposal of process materials; however this is of a lower priority to the project members at this time.
- Measure environmental impact associated with the fabrication processes for producing bare printed wiring boards using real production (non-theoretical) data.
- Develop a model/calculator for use by our members to measure the relative energy/CO2 footprint for fabrication of different PWB designs allowing designers to make informed environmentally conscious design decisions.
- Collect real time water and electricity consumption data for individual PWB fabrication processes from a high volume manuafcturing plant .
- Collect laminate and pre-preg production electricity consumption data from laminate producer.
- Calculate CO2 emissions impact related to chemcials used in thePWB fabrication process.
- Calculate CO2 emissions associated with the fabrication of specific reference designs representing different application areas.
- Create a tool to calculate CO2/Greenhouse gas emissions associated with different PWB designs and constructions.
The project focused on collecting actual data from fabrication plants and where possible for suppliers to the PWB manufacturing industry.