You may have planned tonight’s dinner, and perhaps even have reservations for this summer’s vacation. But have you mapped out how your company’s products will succeed in the economic and natural environments 20 years from now?
Fortunately, the International Electronics Manufacturing Initiative has forecast critical technological and sustainability trends for the electronics industry. iNEMI’s 2017 Roadmap will be available to the public in early April but we invite you to begin gleaning insights for eco-design today.
To Know Where We're Going We Must Know Where We've Been
One of iNEMI’s chapters is focused on Sustainable Electronics, which includes teams on Eco-Design, Materials, Energy, End-of-Life, and overall Product Sustainability. The Eco-design team members working on forecasting included representatives from Nokia, Oracle, IBM, Thermo Fisher Scientific, Design Chain Associates, ECD Compliance, Earth Shift Global, Green Electronics Council, and Antea Group. Bill Schaeffer of Nokia co-chaired the team, with myself (Pamela Gordon of Antea Group) serving as chair.
The team started by characterizing the electronics industry’s eco-design progress in 2016 in the areas of deployment, enablement tools, and Circular Economy practices. Practices to design in “beyond -regulatory” eco-design parameters were used mainly just by industry leaders.
A 20-Year Vision for Eco-Design
The team then worked to forecast progress expected by 2021, 2026, and 2036. Here’s what they envisioned:
The team forecast that more companies will deploy eco-design programs to keep up with and exceed increasing regulatory and customer requirements. By 2021, the industry will have developed and ratified eco-design parameters for materials and components throughout product life cycles, and have begun creating industry-wide communication processes about these parameters. Moving toward wider engagement in Circular Economy practices, the industry will have developed definitions, standards, business models (e.g., leasing), and infrastructure (e.g., reverse logistics, efficient processing).
Electronics companies in 2026 will have embedded eco-design into all processes (as occurred with quality in the 1990s); their eco-design programs will holistically consider and significantly reduce all environmental impacts of electronics throughout product life-cycles. Most electronics companies will have integrated eco-design tools into their design processes, and will be communicating parameters using agreed-upon processes. University business and engineering degrees will require eco-design curriculum, and the industry will have achieved global harmonization of Circular Economy requirements, with full industry leader participation.
The team’s vision is that, 20 years from now, eco-design will be universally applied to ensure that all electronic products are environmentally and socially sustainable. Product launch teams will have full access to life-cycle-impact information. The electronics industry will have ubiquitously adopted the Circular Economy, fully eschewing the Linear Model (extract-consume-waste).
Toward a Bright Future
While we hope tonight’s dinner and this summer’s vacation work out for you as planned, we also recommend that you think bigger and start planning your company’s path to successful and profitable products and services. Given the undeniably changing global, business, and environmental climates, the prospects for eco-design implementation look bright, and you want to make sure you organization is part of that leading edge and reaping the benefits.
Find webinars rolling out the iNEMI Sustainable Electronics Roadmap starting April 5, 2017 at www.iNEMI.org.
Learn more about eco-design workshops by contacting Pamela Gordon.