The Life Cycle of Materials -- How New Phone Technology Affects the Environment


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In just 30 years, mobile telephony has grown into a major global industry, with an estimated 5 billion users around the world (compared with a total world population of just under 7 billion people). While new subscriber growth has slowed somewhat in recent years, product turnover remains high, with over 1 billion new mobile phones shipped in 2009 alone. As a result of ever-advancing technology and product obsolescence in this market, it is estimated that some 300,000 mobile phones are sent to the trash every day in the United States alone.

This white paper examines the overall environmental impact of materials used in mobile phones, from the extraction of raw materials and component manufacturing required to produce the latest models, to the appropriate recovery and recycling of these products at end-of-life (EoL). While the scope of this paper is limited to mobile phones, similar materials are used in many other high technology products, including personal computers, portable entertainment players, and other types of information and communications devices. Energy consumption and radio frequency emissions at the product level are outside the scope of this paper.

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The Life Cycle of Materials -- How New Phone Technology Affects the Environment

  1. 1. A UL White PaperThe Life Cycle of Materialsin Mobile Phones
  2. 2. The Life Cycle of Materials in Mobile PhonesHow New Phone Technology Affects the EnvironmentIn just 30 years, mobile telephony has grown into a major global industry, with anestimated 5 billion users around the world (compared with a total world populationof just under 7 billion people). While new subscriber growth has slowed somewhatin recent years, product turnover remains high, with over 1 billion new mobilephones shipped in 2009 alone. As a result of ever-advancing technology and productobsolescence in this market, it is estimated that some 300,000 mobile phones are sentto the trash every day in the United States alone.This white paper examines the overall environmental impact of materials used inmobile phones, from the extraction of raw materials and component manufacturingrequired to produce the latest models, to the appropriate recovery and recycling ofthese products at end-of-life (EoL). While the scope of this paper is limited to mobilephones, similar materials are used in many other high technology products, includingpersonal computers, portable entertainment players, and other types of informationand communications devices. Energy consumption and radio frequency emissions at theproduct level are outside the scope of this paper.Regulated Substances and The EU’s RoHS Directive regulatesWaste Legislation specific hazardous substances, with concentrations limited in parts perThe European Commission (EC) is among million (ppm) by the weight of eachthe most active and aggressive regulators homogeneous material that can beseeking to address the environmental mechanically separated, as follows:impact of electrical and electronicequipment. Increasing concerns regarding •  Cadmium (Cd) — 0.01% (100 ppm)the toxicity of several heavy metals •  Lead (Pb) — 0.1% (1000 ppm)and flame retardants used in electronicequipment led to the Commission’s •  Mercury (Hg) — 0.1% (1000 ppm)directive on the restriction of the use of •  Hexavalent chromium (Cr(VI))certain hazardous substances in electrical — 0.1% (1000 ppm)and electronic equipment (2002/95/EC, •  Polybrominated diphenyls (PBB)also known as the RoHS Directive), which — 0.1% (1000 ppm)came into force in European Union (EU)member states in July 2006. •  Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE) — 0.1% (1000 ppm)page 2
  3. 3. The Life Cycle of Materials in Mobile PhonesAt present, the RoHS Directive affects of hazardous substances in electronic This white paper examines the variousmobile phones as well as other consumer products with the passage of Proposition materials commonly found in mobileproducts. The Directive also includes 65 that imposes strict labeling phones from a lifecycle perspective,several dozen exemptions that allow the requirements on products containing any including the extraction of raw materials,use of otherwise restricted hazardous one of hundreds of potentially hazardous manufacturing of components, finalmaterials in certain specified applications. materials. All the while, the EU has not handset assembly, product in use, and stood still, with additional regulations recovery and recycling of componentThe impact of the EU’s RoHS Directive limiting the use of so-called substances materials at the product’s EoL. The paperon the worldwide electronics industry of very high concern (SVHC) under its also identifies and evaluates alternativehas been significant. At the tactical directive on the registration, evaluation, materials available to designers, servicelevel, the regulation has required authorization and restriction of chemicals providers, retailers, users and otherdevelopment of new solders and new (also known as the REACH Directive), stakeholders.soldering process for manufacturing which entered into force in June 2007.printed wiring board (PWB) assemblies, Metals Overviewthe selection of alternate materials for In addition to regulations regarding the From a high-level perspective, mobilesolder terminations of components, use of certain hazardous substances, the phones are generally comprised ofthe qualification of alternate types EU has also implemented requirements approximately 40% metals and 40%of flame retardants, and the need to intended to limit the unsafe handling plastics by weight, with the remainderidentify replacements for other banned of electronic waste, including improper made up of glass and/or ceramicsubstances. At the strategic level, the disposal, “landfilling” and unregulated and other miscellaneous materials.implementation of the requirements incineration. The EU’s directive covering The major metals content of mobileof the RoHS Directive has required electrical and electronic equipment waste phones has been analyzed since themanufacturers to establish new supply (2002/96/EC, also known as the WEEE initial growth of the industry, andchain management procedures, and Directive) was enacted in July 2006. The updates continue to become develop expertise in specifying and WEEE Directive establishes targets for Data from earlier generation phonesdocumenting the materials used in collection of EoL products and for material (pre-1997) is shown in Table 1.electronics hardware. recovery and recycling, and limits the quantity of plastics and other materials TABLE 1: METALS CONTENT OF EARLY MOBILEFurther, most consumer product PHONES (ECTEL 1997) that can be incinerated for energymanufacturers have opted not to run recovery. Beyond the EU, some 23 states Major Metals Content of Mobile Phonesseparate manufacturing processes for in the United States presently have some Copper (Cu) 49.0%RoHS-compliant and non-compliant form of proposed or enacted legislationproducts. Instead, they have modified all Zinc (Zn) 21.8% requiring the collection, recovery andof their production to comply with RoHS Iron (Fe) 11.6% recycling of various electronics products.requirements, thereby ensuring that Nickel (Ni) 6.5%even products shipped to non-EU regions But, while the above regulations are Aluminum (Al) 5.5%contribute to the worldwide reduction in intended to reduce the overall use of Lead (Pb) 1.9%the use of hazardous materials. hazardous materials and to divert those Tin (Sn) 1.7% actually used from improper wasteOther nations, including China and South Silver (Ag) 1.5% disposal, it is not clear whether theKorea, have followed the EU’s lead with Chromium (Cr) 0.5% requirements are based on a holisticsimilar, but not identical, regulations. Gold (Au) 0.1% assessment of the positive and negativeIn the United States, California has led Palladium (Pd) trace aspects of materials used in electronics.the way toward increased regulationpage 3
  4. 4. The Life Cycle of Materials in Mobile PhonesThe conversion of mobile phone design However, this approach provides neither a FIGURE 2: CONTENT (PERCENT) TIMES VALUE WEIGHTING OF PHONE-LEVEL METAL CONTENTand production to comply with RoHS-type complete nor correctly weighted result. Itrequirements has noticeably reduced the is widely known, for example, that while Content X Value CONTENT X VALUEcontent of lead in subsequent generations precious metals, including gold, silver and Pdof products as well as the size, mass and palladium, constitute a small percentage Auuse of structural metals. However, copper of the device’s total mass, precious metal Nihas remained the dominant mass of any recovery is a significant factor in life cycle Agmetal in these devices. management (Sullivan 2006). Thus, a Sn more inclusive analysis of metal content AlIn a more recent study, a variety of is warranted. Femetals were identified according to Cutheir use within several main functional FIGURE 1: PHONE-LEVEL METAL CONTENT 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 (PERCENTAGE) FROM TABLE 3component categories (see Table 2). from their respective ores, which isAlthough the percentage of composition Content Percent CONTENT PERCENT illustrated in Figure 3. From an energywas not published in this study, the list Pd perspective, precious metals gold, silvernonetheless provides useful guidance Au and palladium exceed the impact ofas an overall materials content menu by Ni copper. In addition, the energy contentcomponent type, which will be further Ag of plastics is also significant. Althoughdiscussed in the Metals Content of Main Sn not prominent in Figure 3, glass hasComponents section. Al been noted in other sources as having FeAnother recent report details the use of a significant energy footprint, due to Cumetals in mobile handsets by percentage 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 the high melt temperatures that areand economic value. The data is shown in required during manufacturing.Table 3. Neither tin nor nickel are significant Metals Content with Value WeightingTABLE 2: MAIN ELEMENTS BY FUNCTIONAL from a recovery value or energyCOMPONENT (TAKAHASHI 2008) In addition to percentage composition perspective and will not be considered data, Table 3 also provides a value ratio priority materials here. However, Type of Part Elements Detected for each metal. This factor can be used nickel must still be considered from Circuit Board Au, Ag, As Ba, Bi, Cr, to weight each metal according to Cu, Ga, Mn, Ni, Pb, an external, user contact perspective Pd, Pt, Si, Sn, Ta, Ti, commercial considerations, a relevant (see External Surfaces section). Zn, Zr factor from a metals recycling point Flexible Substrate Au, Ag, Cu, Pt of view. The products of the content Therefore, from a phone-level standpoint, Liquid Crystal Display Au, Ag, As, Ba, Ca, Cu, percentages and value ratios are major metals of interest are: In, Ni, Sb, Si, Sn depicted in Figure 2. While copper •  Copper Motor Au, Ag, Cu, Pt remains dominant, ferrous and Camera Au, Cu, Ni •  Gold aluminum fractions are reduced Speaker/Microphone Cu, Mn, Zn in importance, and the weighting •  Silver of gold predictably increases, since •  Palladium precious metals recovery dominatesA graphical analysis of this data is shown the EoL phase of mobile phones. •  Ferrous metals, e.g., steelsin Figure 1. From this analysis, one might and stainless steelsconclude that mainly copper, iron and Another important life cycle considerationaluminum are top priority materials. is the energy required to extract metals •  Aluminumpage 4
  5. 5. The Life Cycle of Materials in Mobile PhonesMetals in these products are considered FIGURE 3: ENERGY CONSUMED IN RAW MATERIAL EXTRACTION (YU 2010)a valuable resource, and the data clearly Pbsupports the need for recovery of EoL Niproducts and the recycling and reuse Znof these metals (Sullivan 2006). The Glassunwanted end result would be for high Sn RAW MATERIALvolumes of such products ending up in Ala landfill, where some of the metals, Feincluding copper, nickel, antimony, lead Cuand zinc could leach out (Lincoln 2007). Ag PdMetals Content of Main Components PlasticAnother useful way to approach Aumaterial content is from a functional 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 ENERGY, MJ (PER MOBILE PHONE)point of view, based on an analysisof the main components. One such components or machinable brass and (LCDs) and integrated circuits (ICs). ICsbreakdown is shown in Table 4, where aluminum. With regard to chromium, only are typically mounted on a PWB, so thatthe six priority metals that have already its hexavalent form (Cr(VI)) is restricted, a bare PWB, or substrate, which has notbeen identified from bulk product while chromium metal is allowed and yet been populated with components oranalysis have been highlighted. may be found in stainless steels. soldered as an assembly, is a subset ofHighlighted elements are those identified the PWB category that is often presented Clearly, non-metals are missingas priority metals in this paper. in the literature to mean the assembly of from the data based on chemical PWB plus soldered components.Several observations can be drawn from analysis. Notably absent are the lightthis data, including the following points: metal beryllium; the halogens, i.e., The rest of the metals listed in Table fluorine, chlorine, bromine, iodine, 4 remain available for ongoing•  Certain components contain astatine; phosphorous; and all organic environmental study. It may be useful to metals not found to be significant (carbon-based) compounds. Halogens may comment here on where and why they at the handset level contribute to EoL concerns due to dioxin might be used:•  Other metals significant at the and furan formation when improperly •  Antimony (Sb): Antimony oxides handset level may not appear incinerated. Beryllium in beryllia or copper are synergists for brominated in selected components. beryllium alloys should be minimized flame retardants (BFR) from a dust inhalation perspectiveAmong the restricted substances •  Arsenic (As): Could be found inidentified in the EU’s RoHS Directive, only Metals — Future Trends specialty glass of displays. GaAslead and chromium were identified in this In other studies, the dominant is also used in semiconductorsdata. (Note: Some common exemptions components in the life cycle of a mobile •  Barium (Ba): Ceramic capacitors areapply to lead, e.g., in glass frit of chip phone are PWBs, liquid crystal displays typically based on barium titanateTABLE 3: METAL CONTENT AND VALUE RATIO AT PHONE LEVEL (YU 2010) Element Cu Al Fe Ni Pb Sn Ag Au Pd Content (%) 13.0 2.0 5.0 0.1 0.3 0.5 0.1 0.0 0.0 Value Ratio (%) 4.3 0.3 0.2 0.1 0.0 0.6 3.9 78.9 11.8page 5
  6. 6. The Life Cycle of Materials in Mobile Phones•  Bismuth (Bi): Its presence is not •  Platinum (Pt): While platinum •  Zinc (Zn): Zinc is used in various expected and is not listed in other has been listed in some other brasses alloyed with copper comprehensive data for populated reports (Legarth 1996, p. 35), its •  Zirconium (Zr): Zirconium is not electronic PWBs (Legarth 1996, p. related noble metal, palladium, widely found in electronics, and its 35). Bismuth could possibly be a which is used in some termination presence here is not explained trace metal in Pb-based solder systems, is found more often•  Calcium (Ca): Glasses are known to •  Silicon (Si): Silicon dioxide is the major Metals — Energy Footprint contain CaO (Legarth, 1996, p. 28) constituent of glass, used in fibers The energy footprint of major woven in rigid PWBs, reinforcements components parallels their materials•  Chromium (Cr): Chromium seems for plastics, and lenses for displays. impacts. Figure 5 shows that silicon anomalous on PWBs, but is known Silicon is also the major substrate in ICs and GaAs semiconductors contribute to be present in stainless steels, and other semiconductors. Silicon is an more to energy impact than the and in thin films for corrosion abundant resource in sand, and it may remaining electronic parts, followed protection of steel, e.g., Cr(III) be recovered in a glass fraction during by LCD and ceramic devices. In•  Gallium (Ga): High performance recycling, but there are no known comparison, the contribution of semiconductors may be based on GaAs ways to recover any of the significant final phone assembly is small.•  Indium (In): Used in displays as an energy content of a functional Plastics optically transparent conductor, semiconductor at the material level. Two major classes of plastics, indium tin oxide (ITO) •  Tantalum (Ta): Used in thermoplastics and thermosets, are•  Manganese (Mn): Manganese is not tantalum capacitors. relevant to mobile handsets and all often found in electronics except as an •  Tin (Sn): Tin is common in types of electronic devices. The carbon internal layer in tantalum capacitors component terminations and is backbone is not detected in routine the major metal in solders. metals analysis, so a bill of material or•  Nickel (Ni): Nickel is often used disassembly is required to obtain product- as an internal barrier layer to •  Titanium (Ti): TiO2 is a white pigment, specific detail. prevent intermetallic growth in which may be attributed to markings component terminations, and is a on a PWB or component. Titanium Common Thermoplastics constituent of stainless steels could also be found on external Since many major housing parts are•  Lead (Pb): Banned under surfaces in plastics, paints or markings. being marked with ISO 11469 codes, RoHS-type requirements. May be Titanium is also a major element e.g., >PC+ABS<, it is often possible to present in exempt applications, in the alloy NiTi (nitinol), a shape disassemble and inspect samples to e.g., glass or ceramics memory material, which has been identify their composition in cases used for external antenna wiresTABLE 4: COMPONENT-LEVEL METALS CONTENT (TAKAHASHI 2008)† Elements are those identified as priority metals in this paper. Metal Au† Ag† As Ba Bi Ca Cr Cu† Ga In Mn Ni Pb Pt Si Sb Sn Ta Ti Zn Zr Al† Fe† Pd† PWB • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • Flex • • • • LCD • • • • • • • • • • • Camera • • • Audio • • • componentspage 6
  7. 7. The Life Cycle of Materials in Mobile Phoneswhere a supplier bill of material is not FIGURE 4: ENERGY REQUIRED TO PRODUCE MAIN COMPONENTS (YAMAGUCHI 2003)available. Polycarbonate (PC), acrylonitrile Cellular Phone Assemblybutadiene styrene (ABS) and blendsof these two materials are commonly, Ceramic Devicethough not exclusively, used for housings.These basic polymers may further contain Liquid Crystal Display PARTSvarying levels of glass fibers to improvemechanical stiffness. Commercial Sum of Electronic Partsthermoplastics also always containadditives for better flow and processing, GaAs Deviceheat and UV protectants, other stabilizers, Silicon Deviceand inorganic or organic colorants.In contrast to flexible plastics like PVC, 0 50 100 150 200 250 300 350 400 450 500 PROCESS ENERGY/MATERIAL PRODUCTION ENERGYplasticizers like phthalates are notexpected to be present in engineering Recycling Thermoplastics paper. For consumer plastics (consumerthermoplastics. While flame retardant plastics are defined as those with Societygrades are available, industry practice Thermoplastics can be collected, of the Plastics Industry (SPI) recyclingtends to limit their use to housings of reground and molded into new parts, codes 1 through 6; engineering resinsexternal power supplies and not the subject to limitations on source like PC are lumped under code #7, Other),housings of mobile handsets themselves. control, contamination, separation it is not unusual to see a financial loss,Numerous other base plastics and blends of desired grades and colors, and though the impact needs to be moremay also be found, e.g., copolymers of PC degradation of mechanical properties thoroughly reviewed to fully understandand siloxane. versus virgin resin. The recycling of environmental benefits of recycling versus engineering thermoplastics mayThe handset manufacturer has the energy recovery. Data appears to be enjoy more widespread success asadditional options of metalizing, painting rather limited regarding the recycling of recycling volume increases and theand, in the case of ABS-containing resins, engineering thermoplastics. practice of using recycled contentplating the surface to achieve cosmetic reinforces life cycle thinking. In addition, engineering plastics recyclingrequirements. Clear thermoplastics today is not necessarily a closed PC or polymethylmethacrylate There have been dissenting opinions Resins from EoL electronic products(PMMA) may also be found, usually with on the economic and environmental may not feed back into new electronicsuitable coating layers for anti-abrasion, validity of spending resources to recycle products. Some approaches rely uponanti-smudging or optical properties (see plastics, which may represent only a collection of items such as consumerExternal Surfaces section). minor fraction of a handset’s overall water bottles that can be ground and environmental footprint. One such view isIn addition to the major resins used incorporated in an engineering resin. An presented in Figure housings, a vast number of other alternate approach is chemical conversionpolymers may be used, each with their According to this data, the main economic of a consumer resin like polyethyleneown specific mechanical properties impacts are in the LCD and the populated terephthalate (PET) to another basedepending on their intended function. PWB (including ICs), a view that agrees chemical feedstock that can then beThese materials may require further with the known energy footprint of used to manufacture PET and otherinvestigation on a case-by-case basis. these assemblies discussed earlier in this engineering 7
  8. 8. The Life Cycle of Materials in Mobile PhonesDespite the perceived limits of plastic phones also often contain one or more sphenol A (TBBPA). This compound isrecycling, it seems intuitive that most layers of resin-coated copper high chemically reacted into the backbone oftypes of recycled plastics would save on density interconnect (HDI). Custom epoxies so that it is no longer present asenergy, compared with manufacturing grades of epoxies are also used in an individual chemical species to helpvirgin resin from petrochemicals. UL molding component packages such as reduce its release and exposure to theEnvironment continues to seek additional semiconductors, tantalum capacitors environment. Still, additional studiesdata that would identify these benefits. and so forth. In these applications, flame are indicated regarding TBBPA’s limited retardants are almost always used, thus biodegradeability and its toxic effects onThermosetting Plastics warranting attention on the potential aquatic organisms. (Rosenblum 2011).Epoxies are used in rigid PWBs, laminated environmental issues from the use of Unlike thermoplastics, which canin layers with glass weave reinforcement, halogens, including chlorine and bromine. be recycled and remelted into newwith copper photopatterned, and One of the most commonly used flame applications, epoxies generally arechemically etched and plated to retardants in electronics PWBs and not recyclable. It is currently acceptedform interconnects. PWBs in mobile component packages is tetrabromobi- that the epoxy may be used for energy recovery in the pretreatment (“roasting”)FIGURE 5: ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT OF CELLULAR PHONE PARTS (BOKS 2000) of PWBs, including assembled PWBs; however, the glass is destined to end up as a slag. Some work has been 1%Rest done to recycle epoxy and glass as inert filler for various applications. Bio-Based Plastics 39% LCD Besides recovery and recycling, another emerging approach to improving materials sustainability involves renewable biological sources. Many of these new materials are just being commercially introduced. Some of the feedstocks being developed for basic chemicals include corn, soybeans, or sugar cane. Non-foodstuff sources, like castor beans and kenaf, and cellulose and lignin from forest products, are also under development. 59% Bio-based materials may either replace traditional petrochemicals for making PWB an existing type of plastic or may 1% Housing become the building blocks for creating new types of plastic. More research is required to better understand the energy footprint of bio-basedpage 8
  9. 9. The Life Cycle of Materials in Mobile Phonesmaterials and to validate their overall of the references cited in the previous Paintsustainability. However, the current section on metals.) Finishing tends to One or more coats of spray-appliedconsensus is that bio-based materials be problematic for magnesium, but paint, e.g., base coats and clear overcoat,generally contribute to sustainability. painting and anodizing are possible (see are common over both plastic and the Paint section). Since its use appearsExternal Surfaces metal external parts. One major type of to be rare and the external surface will beSo far, this paper has examined the paint chemistry is 2K, or 2-component, addressed elsewhere, magnesium is notmobile phone from a functional polyurethane. Variations include thermal of significance at this time.perspective. While the use phase does or ultraviolet curing, solvent-bornenot use or generate materials (excluding Steels and stainless steels may find formulations with the emission of volatilethe chemical reactions within batteries), limited use in either finished or organic compounds (VOCs) that may bethe main use phase materials issue to unfinished form. Their externally available incinerated on site, high solids/low VOCbe addressed is skin contact by the user. nickel content may be tested per the formulations, and waterborne varieties.With the exception of external nickel, methods identified in EN 1811 and EN Pigments are certain to be present in anywhich may cause allergic dermatitis, 12472 for allergic dermatitis, but these type of paint, including inorganics likeno additional concerns regarding skin materials do not generally release excess TiO2 for white, and an extensive list ofcontact with external surfaces have nickel in use. possible chemicals for other colors.been identified to date. However, Plastics Platingthe following areas are includedhere for sake of completeness. As discussed in the Common Chromium is the most common type Thermoplastics section, plastics may be of of plating for external parts on ferrousMetals numerous chemical families and contain metals as well as for wet-plateableBecause a cell phone is a radio transmitter additives as well, though most often the plastics containing ABS. In additionand receiver, the use of external metals top surface is decorated. to chromic acid, some of the platingis necessarily limited to prevent the chemistries may involve sulfuric acid Glass and palladium, tin and/or copper-baseddegradation of antenna performance.Aluminum alloys are most commonly Glass use is on the rise, especially with activators. Thus, the presence ofused due to their light weight. touch screen handsets. Aluminosilicate chromium and the other metals should be glass is most common, with chemical investigated as a potential risk.Anodizing strengthening applied to exchange There are also widely used nameplatesAs a preferred method of finishing sodium with potassium within the outer or escutcheons formed by platingaluminum, anodizing is an electrolytic portions of the glass structure itself. Bare electroformed nickel with chromium,process in which aluminum is treated glass is not likely to be the final external adding vacuum-deposited metal,in a bath of an oxidizing agent (strong surface, since various clear coatings are and finishing with a clear top coatacid) to which colorants may also be applied to address reflections, smudging of paint. Nickel electroplating itselfadded. Thus, the surface contains and other user concerns. These coatings may also be colored, e.g., “blackaluminum oxides, imparting a hard, may consist of a variety of silicone or nickel” for steel fasteners.ceramic-like finish with entrapped fluorosilicone polymers, although detailedpigments providing the desired color. formulations are usually proprietary. Vacuum Metalization However, such coatings may wear off,Magnesium and its alloys have been Vacuum metalization can most often be leaving exposed glass.used on a much more limited basis. (Note found in mobile handset applicationsthat magnesium was not listed in any and may be externally applied usingpage 9
  10. 10. The Life Cycle of Materials in Mobile Phonesa tin-rich source. The resulting film ULE’s Standard significant drivers of change in theimparts a metallic look that is not dense for Sustainability past few years. The materials contentenough to be electrically conductive. of these products has been analyzed UL Environment is working withSubsequent overcoatings may include from a life cycle perspective. For each stakeholders to develop a Standardcolored or clear paint that may of the main material categories, i.e., intended to address sustainability inwear off. Hence, the use of vacuum metals, plastics, external surfaces mobile phones. In its current form,metalization may result in user contact and glass, key environmental impacts the draft standard, ULE 110 , Interimwith potentially hazardous materials. have been detailed for material Sustainability Requirements for Mobile selection in product design as well Phones, assesses each product on its useOther Decorations as prospects for a high degree of of sustainable materials in its designPractically any of the aforementioned material reuse and recycling at EoL. and construction, selection of materialsexternal surfaces may contain and use of recycled content as well as Although small in their overall amount,artwork or printing applied by efforts to optimize material recovery and precious metals are significant by virtuevarious printing processes. Other recycling at a product’s EoL. The Standard of their limited availability, energytypes of decorations include in-mold assesses the sustainability not just of a footprint and recovery value. Commentslamination and in-mold decoration. product itself, but also accompanying on a comprehensive list of otherFabrics and leather may contain azo dyes accessories, including the product’s power elements based on the available chemicalthat are regulated in the EU. EU Directives supply and even product packaging. The analysis data have also been provided.regulating azo colorants include 2004/21/ Standard also addresses larger issues No solution is currently available forEC, 2003/3/EC and 2002/61/EC. such as the environmental management recovering the embedded energy in system used by the manufacturer andGlass key components like ICs and displays. toxicological concerns.Handsets are trending toward larger However, prospects remain open fordisplays and toward displays dominated ULE 110 employs an achievement matrix future optimization of recycled plasticsby touch screens. The material most that rates each product on several and bio-based plastics, including aoften used is specialty glass. While use different sustainability categories, closed-loop approach where old productsof recycled glass (cullet) would offer a including materials, energy use, health are recycled back into new ones.reduction in the energy footprint, it is not and environmental concerns, EoL For information about the “The Life Cycleknown whether manufacturers are able to management, packaging and product of Materials in Mobile Phones” whiteensure stringent optical and mechanical manufacturing, and innovation. Each paper, please contact Research Engineerproperties with post-consumer recycled product must earn a minimum number Roger Franz, UL Environment, atcontent. More work is needed here to of points to qualify for certification and a better understanding of the use of can qualify for higher certification levelspost-consumer cullet by manufacturers. depending on the total points earned. Mobile phones meeting the criteria ofAlso needed is a better understanding the Standard will have demonstratedof the potential for recycled content in significant strides toward achievingglass fiber (fiberglass) to be used as a environmental sustainability.filler in plastics and the glass weave ofPWBs. Energy savings within the glass Conclusionsproduction process can be awarded This paper has reviewed the marketthrough supplier environmental trends and regulatory landscape formanagement incentives. mobile phones, which have beenpage 10
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