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10 The PCB Magazine • April 2014 we are going to satisfy the expectations of those billions of people not fortunate enough to be born in the right place at the right time, we are going to have to make some adjustments in our approach to the design and manufacture of fu- ture products. In short, we are going to have to look very seriously at what we might need to do to create a truly sustainable electronics manu- facturing industry in the future. This begs the question: "What is a sustain- ably manufactured product?" Unfortunately this is not a simple question, and without sur- prise one finds that the answer is not simple ei- ther. That said, there are think tanks out there where people grapple with the problem. One such is the Lowell Center for Sustainable Pro- duction. They have created a reasonably com- prehensive checklist for those seeking to make an effort to create products and processes that are sustainable. Following is a condensed sum- mary of their "litmus test" checklist [1] . Sustainable products are: 1) Safe and ecologically sound throughout life cycle and: • designed to be durable, repairable, readily recycled, compostable, or easily biodegradable • produced and packaged using the minimal amount of material and energy possible 2) Processes that are designed and operated such that: • wastes and ecologically incompatible byproducts are reduced, eliminated or recycled on-site • substances or physical agents and conditions that present hazards to human health or the environment are eliminated • energy and materials are conserved, and the forms of energy and materials used are most appropriate for the desired ends • work spaces are designed to minimize or eliminate chemical, ergonomic and physical hazard The above checklist is succinct but it also of- fers the user targets, which are reasonably clear and measurable. This is important for as every scientist and engineer knows, until you can ap- ply numbers to any effort you have no way of knowing how well you're doing. The one thing that appears to be missing from the list in the view of this writer is a statement about the need for greater reliability. If we can make products that will last indefinitely, we don't have to make them again. This may fly in the face of the sen- sibilities of product marketers today who seek to have a new product on the shelf every 12–18 months, if not sooner. However, such product marketers have little or no appreciation of the situation of the peoples who inhabit much of the developing world. If one is making as little as two dollars a day, the products they purchase must be durable, for they cannot afford to re- place them on a whim. Fortunately, the CEOs of corporations large and small are beginning to appreciate the im- portance of sustainability even as they wrestle with the challenge of addressing it. This is evi- dent based on results of a recent and broadly cited Accenture study on sustainability where- in 1,000 CEOs in 27 different industries were questioned about the importance of sustain- ability on the future success of their businesses. The answers to the questions were promising. A total of 93% of CEOs affirmed the importance of sustainability for the future of their compa- ny. And 80% felt the sustainability would of- fer them competitive advantage, while 78% felt that pursuing sustainability would enhance in- novation and growth within their companies. Unfortunately, as pragmatists, only a third of them felt that the global economic situation was on track to meet targets or making the kind of effort required to address the sustainability challenge. Moreover, they seemed conflicted as less than half of them believed they can quan- tify their efforts and perhaps more importantly, they felt that sustainability efforts will likely al- ways take a backseat to profitability. "Therein lies the rub" as the Bard of Avon so nicely phrased it. Given there is no clear-cut and well-defined path to sustainability, given the wide range of electronic products being de- veloped and sold as well as the myriad mate- SUSTAINABILITY—WHAT AND WHY? continues

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