Planet Earth is under stress from various environmental factors, increasing the importance of being able to estimate the environmental costs associated with dynamic material shifts. Such shifts are occurring in the electronics industry and the most famous recent example is the introduction of lead-free solders. "Global Life Cycle Impact Assessments of Material Shifts" describes the environmental implications of this shift to lead-free solders and conductive adhesives using the standardized methodology of environmental life-cycle assessment (LCA).
As the product systems involved are rather small for interconnection materials it is possible – using uncertainty analysis and consequential LCA – to arrive at robust conclusions, even in the difficult holistic field of environmental cost accounting. The lead-free shift has many implications, such as the export of electronics waste, resource consumption, recycling issues, and technology development.
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