Life Cycle- Consumer Electronics

Published on June 13, 2020

By Archit Parhi

From the birth to the recycling of Electronic products

Consumer electronics are electronic equipment that we use in everyday life. They make our lives easy and comfortable. With a robust annual growth of the electronics industry, the consumer electronics market remains bullish. Young consumers are always eager to buy new technologies, whereas old consumers have been showing affirmative purchase plans for the upcoming years. The advancement in technologies and materials have provided consumer electronics and related companies to innovate and increase their presence in the market. While the growth in the business is high, the afterlife of the product is an area which still needs to be improved.

A consumer electronic product usually starts from the procurement of raw materials like neodymium, cerium etc. which are rare earth materials along with plastic and glass components. These materials are received through various finished products such as integrated chips, lithium-ion batteries, copper wires, aluminium body panels etc. After the procurement of these components, it is assembled using various human-made and robot processes. Then there is a quality inspection in some areas after which the finished product is packed and shipped to the designated places.

Now comes the user in the scenario where he/she buys the finished product and uses it for an absolute lifetime. The lifetime of a product used by the user is defined by the quality and usability of the product. After the product is discarded, it is further transferred into three areas. It’s either used by a second user or collected by a recycle plant or else it goes to general waste where it is destroyed by burning or landfilling. These give birth to a significant issue that the planet earth is facing. It is converted to unprocessed e-waste.

 

The products which are used by a second user also goes through the same cycle. It is either changed to unprocessed e-waste or goes to a recycling plant. In the recycling plant, it is dismantled, and the useful rare earth materials are extracted. The broken parts are used as landfill or burned, which again creates e-waste. From the metal recovery plant, the metals are processed and are made into chips and circuit boards. Parts like nut bolt are reused as it is by the assembly plants. The process thus continues to manufacture consumer electronics.

All work © Archit Parhi 2021

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