Review: Electronics Goes Green 2020+

Recycling management and C02 neutrality in production chains

October 05, 2020

More and more companies are now focusing on sustainable management and production. Tech giant Apple, for example, has set itself the goal of becoming climate-neutral by 2030. Philips has also set itself a comprehensive sustainability program. How both companies intend to achieve their ambitious goals was explained by Sarah Chandler (Apple) and Eelco Smit (Philips) at the international Electronics Goes Green 2020+ conference, which offered a top-class program.

Electronics Goes Green +
© Fraunhofer IZM
image teaser Electronics Goes Green 2020+ is now an online event!
© Fraunhofer IZM

More and more companies are now focusing on sustainable management and production. Tech giant Apple, for example, has set itself the goal of becoming climate-neutral by 2030. Philips has also set itself a comprehensive sustainability program. How both companies intend to achieve their ambitious goals was explained by Sarah Chandler (Apple) and Eelco Smit (Philips) at the international Electronics Goes Green 2020+ conference, which offered a top-class program.

For the sixth time, the Fraunhofer Institute for Reliability and Microintegration IZM organized the world's largest conference on sustainability in electronics, which had to be held online for the first time due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Prof. Dr. Martin Schneider-Ramelow, deputy director of Fraunhofer IZM, celebrated his premiere as Chairman and pointed out the topicality of the conference: "The overall ecological footprint of electronics continues to grow. The need for more environmentally friendly electronics has not decreased, nor can we stop looking for ways to use electronics where it is most beneficial to our environment. Circularity, digitalization and carbon neutrality are the most important developments that bring us together once again for this conference.”

250 participants from research, industry and politics had the opportunity to watch 120 pre-recorded presentations on an online platform created especially for the conference and to participate in a virtual live event on September 1. Eelco Smit, Senior Director Sustainability at Philips, opened the live event with his keynote speech on "Best Practices in Sustainability - what can we learn? In his presentation he introduced the Philips Sustainability Program, which is developed every five years. For example, by the end of 2020, 15% of total revenue is expected to come from circular products and 70% from solutions that meet eco-design requirements. The company also aims to become carbon neutral by the end of the year by purchasing 100% renewable electricity and recycling 90% of its waste products. According to Smit, Philips is close to achieving the goals it has set itself in the current program.

In the afternoon, another highlight awaited the participants with the second keynote. Sarah Chandler, Senior Director of Operations Product Development and Environmental Initiatives, presented Apple's roadmap up to 2030 and explained that the company wants to achieve zero CO2 emissions in the manufacture of its products in ten years at the latest. Apple is already using renewable energy in offices, data centers and its own production facilities. However, since large parts of production are outsourced, Apple is also approaching its supply chain and is demanding that all suppliers, including German manufacturers Varta, Henkel and Tesa, also produce in a CO2-neutral fashion and switch to renewable energies by 2030.

In addition to the two keynotes, the live day featured six interactive sessions and an exciting panel discussion on the topic of "Recycling as circular ecomomy!?” Fun and variety was also provided: During the breaks, participants could attend yoga classes or watch vegan cooking videos of @gruengebraten. Even the exchange and networking with like-minded participants was possible thanks to numerous options on the online platform.

The Electronics Goes Green 2020+ was a surprisingly positive example of an online conference and convinced with a good mix of depth of content, interaction and entertainment.

In the end, Technical Chair Nils F. Nissen concluded: "Green electronics can be integrated much more strongly into company processes and, above all, it can and must become more sustainable across the board more quickly. Closed-loop recycling, resource efficiency and digitization are the approaches to make relevant contributions to climate neutrality. And even if leading companies such as Apple will become climate-neutral for the entire life cycle of their equipment by 2030, there is still much to be done to make electronics really green". And so there will certainly be no shortage of topics for discussion at the next conference in four years.