Environmental Impact of Electronic Manufacturing Industry

How to meet your environmental sustainability goals by making conscious partnerships

Environmental Impact of Electronic Manufacturing Industry

Last month SIA announced a growth of 23% in global sales of semiconductors in the first quarter of 2022. As the industry grows so does its usage of natural resources, carbon footprint, and negative environmental impact.

According to research published by a group at Harvard in 2020, hardware manufacturing is the dominant source of carbon emissions. The research included reports on the biggest tech companies, including TSMC, Intel, Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and Apple.

As mentioned by Schneider Electric, billions of chips are fabricated yearly, and production of one single chip requires approximately 32 liters of water, 2.5 oz of chemicals and 1.6kg of petroleum.

TSMC, alone emitted around 15 million tons of CO2 in 2020 with its annual electricity consumption, estimated to be nearly 5 percent of Taiwan’s entire electricity usage.

According to The Guardian, Intel’s 700-acre campus in Ocotillo, Arizona, produced nearly 15,000 tons of waste in the first three months of 2021, consumed 927m gallons of fresh water, enough to fill about 1,400 Olympic swimming pools, and used 561m kilowatt-hours of energy. This year alone over 20 million tons of e-waste has been disposed of worldwide. Many of which are disposed of in regular landfills leading to heavy metals contaminating the soil and ground water.

How is the industry mitigating this impact?

Many of the world’s largest semiconductor companies such as TSMC have already committed to sustainability initiatives by 2030 - 2050. Focusing on initiatives that reduce energy use, water consumption, and waste production.  

Some have even committed to sourcing 100% of their global electricity consumption from renewable sources and joined RE100.

Additionally, companies such as Apple and Microsoft have also developed recycling programs, partnering with recycling organizations around the world to help with global e-waste problems.  

Organizations and companies have been coming together in events such as the Future Summits 2022 and SEMI’s Silicon Valley Virtual Forum working together to find solutions around reducing the environmental impact of the industry and building sustainability initiative.  

There is more to do …

Initiatives to reduce carbon footprint, resource usage and e-waste production by manufacturers are first steps towards decreasing the environmental impact of the industry. But there are more complexities and interconnectedness within the entire semiconductor value chain.

Early this month at the Future Summits 2022, imec, Lars Ace Ranarsson, Program Director of SSTS said “Today there is a data gap concerning the environmental footprint of the fabrication of semiconductor integrated circuits for more advanced technologies.”

In order to successfully reduce the environmental impact of the entire industry, there is a need for sub-tier, materials, equipment, and other suppliers to commit to creating sustainability initiatives as well. To begin working towards your Environmental Sustainability aspect of your ESG goals first start by assessing your carbon footprint and environmental footprint. Build sustainability goals to reduce your natural resource consumptions, carbon emission and waste production.  

Integrate your entire supply chain into sustainability efforts and evaluate and score your supplier and business partnerships based on their performance against environmental goals and ethical business practices.

Create visibility into your entire supply chain to ensure you create intelligent business partnerships and meet your ESG goals.  

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