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10 PCB007 MAGAZINE I MARCH 2024 Alex Stepinski is known throughout the industry as an innovator and disruptor com- mitted to environmental sustainability, primar- ily through his current work around zero liq- uid discharge (ZLD) for PCB fabrication. But Alex says financial sustainability must come first. Standing firm in his belief that green is the most financially sustainable option for manu- facturing and financial success, he explains his position and vision for a greener, more lucra- tive future for bare board fabricators. "Before I retire in about 10 years," he says, "I want to make sure that all new fabs, and at least 25% of the old ones are zero liquid discharge in this industry." Nolan Johnson: Alex, what are the biggest technological and cost challenges for zero liquid discharge? The Delicate Balance of Sustainable Business and Going Green Alex Stepinski: Globally, the single biggest challenge of ZLD is the economics, but over- all, there are three distinct technical chal- lenges. The first is how to reduce the amount of liquid chemicals you have to boil, which is the biggest cost. Next, it's about how to treat the portfolio of organic compounds cost-effi- ciently. Third, you must have a way to deal with mistakes, such as when the wrong chem- istry is dumped into the wrong place—some- thing that happens in every shop. Zero liquid discharge in Europe is primarily done by concentrating the waste and then ship- ping it out to central facilities where the liquid is boiled off at scale. They have a different eco- system. Because we don't have this ecosystem in place in the U.S. yet, I originally took this concept when I worked in New Hampshire, purchased boiling units normally used in Feature Interview by the I-Connect007 Editorial Team

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