In the next years, increasing use of electronic devices in consumables and new technologies for the internet of things will increase the amount of electronic scrap. To save resources and minimize waste volumes, an eco-friendlier production and more Sustainable lifecycle will be needed.
Scientists of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) have now been the first to produce displays, whose biodegradability has been checked and certified by an independent office. The results are reported in the Journal of Materials Chemistry.
“For the first time, we have demonstrated that it is possible to produce sustainable displays that are largely based on natural materials with the help of industrially relevant production methods. After use, these displays are no electronic scrap, but can be composted.
In combination with recycling and reuse, this might help minimize or completely prevent some of the environmental impacts of electronic scrap,” says Manuel Pietsch, first author of the publication and researcher of KIT’s Light Technology Institute (LTI), who is working at the Heidelberg InnovationLab. For further information see the IDTechEx report on Flexible Electronics in Healthcare 2020-2030.
The display is generally suited for short-lifecycle applications in various sectors. In medical diagnostics, for instance, where hygiene plays an important role, sensors and their indicators have to be cleaned or disposed of after use. The newly developed display will not be dumped as electronic scrap but is compostable.
It can also be used for quality monitoring in food packagings, where reuse is not permitted. Digital printing allows the displays to be adapted to persons or complex shapes without any expensive modification of the process. This reduces the consumption of resources.