Electronic devices are a complex mixture of several hundred chemicals. A mobile phone, for example, contains 500 to 1,000 components, some of which have critical functions that rely on toxic chemicals and that should not be sent to a landfill. Eliminating chemicals from a product is not easy. Any safe replacement has to perform the same function just as well as, or better, than the original. While reformulating a chemical may be possible, it introduces a risk that the reformulated substance may interact differently with the rest of the product. Another approach is to redesign the product to eliminate non-critical chemicals, but this takes time and money.
GEC is exploring how best to support the numerous activities already underway to address chemicals within electronics and throughout their manufacturing processes. We are currently engaging with stakeholders about the potential of an alternatives database specific to the electronics sector.
The monitoring of human and the world’s environmental health is also an important role for electronics. As technology products, tools and information become more readily available, it becomes easier to better understand our world, especially the degree of air particulates, water pollution and/or deforestation. GEC is looking at how electronics can help capture the health and well-being data needed by local communities.
If you have a project you would like to bring to the Green Electronics Council to address chemicals in the electronics sector or the use of electronics to improve health and wellbeing, we welcome your collaboration.