Every year, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction becomes more urgent as the effects of climate change become more dangerous. It's become critical for organisations to take action - particularly in the electronics industry, which is responsible for 4% of global emissions.
For original electronics manufacturers (OEMs), reducing Scope 1 and 2 emissions is important not only for mitigating the impact of climate change but also for improving their bottom line and reputation in the market.
Scope 1 and 2 emissions: a recap
Scope 1 emissions are generated by your processes that use energy. This includes onsite energy consumption from boilers and furnaces, cooling systems and manufacturing equipment, as well as company-owned vehicles used for transporting goods and personnel.
Scope 2 emissions are those created by the energy powering those processes. In other words, emissions you generate indirectly from purchased electricity for use at your manufacturing sites.
The Scope 1 and 2 emissions you produce are very much within your control. This is unlike Scope 3 emissions, which cover the indirect emissions that occur in the value chain. These are harder to tackle, and why most companies tend to focus first on reducing Scope 1 and 2 emissions.
Making a difference: the opportunity for OEMs
The need for sustainable manufacturing methods in the electronics industry is increasingly pressing, and IDTechEx's recent report on Sustainable Electronics Manufacturing 2023-2033 sheds light on the potential benefits of embracing such methods.
The report reveals that electronics manufacturers can significantly reduce their environmental impact and also reap financial benefits by adopting sustainable practices.
Companies like Intel, Samsung, STMicroeletronics, and LG Electronics are already leading the way in reducing their Scope 1 and 2 emissions. There are numerous ways OEMs can reduce their emissions and environmental footprint whilst also making significant cost savings.
Strategies for reducing Scope 1 and 2 emissions
Reduce energy usage
Reducing your energy usage is crucial to help fight climate change. By replacing on-premises fossil fuel sources with low or no-carbon energy sources like biomass, recovered heating, heat pumps, or electric heating, OEMs can reduce their carbon footprint and achieve significant Scope 1 emissions reductions. As an example, upgrading to hybrid or electric models from hydraulic-powered injection moulding machines is one great option.
Sourcing electricity from renewable sources like wind, solar, or hydropower can also significantly reduce energy consumption and indirect emissions from purchased electricity.
You can also review the raw materials you use and move towards renewable sources to further cut down on your energy requirements. The manufacture of some materials is especially energy-intensive - the production of liquid silicone rubber for instance, which requires temperatures of 179–198°C.
Reduce water usage
OEMs often consume a lot of water during the manufacturing process as it can be used for cooling, cleaning, and even within some finished products. Auditing your water use will provide you with insight into how you can reduce your waste and reuse water where possible.
An estimated 8000 litres of water is consumed in the manufacturing of a single integrated circuit with a single fab using up to 15 million litres per day. The likes of Intel and Samsung are leading the way in enacting water conservation measures, also resulting in greater self-sufficiency and reduced costs.
According to the IDTechEx report, adopting additive methods for printed circuit board (PCB) manufacturing can also conserve water resources, with potential savings of up to 95%, equivalent to millions of litres per year.
Employing smart digital manufacturing methods, such as process automation and sensor technology for detecting leaks and improper material usage, can help minimise waste in production processes.
Having a proper recycling system in place in all areas of the business, from the paper used in the office to packaging from machinery, can also help to reduce waste. Where reducing waste is not an option, look for recycling or reuse opportunities.
Improving the energy efficiency of industrial processes can help reduce Scope 1 emissions. This could include measures like upgrading equipment, optimising processes, and improving insulation and ventilation.
Switch to electric vehicles
Switching to electric vehicles (EVs) in your company fleet can also significantly reduce Scope 1 emissions, as EVs do not emit any tailpipe emissions. EVs use electricity as their primary source of energy, and if the electricity is generated from renewable sources, they can effectively produce zero emissions during operation.
Even if the electricity is generated from fossil fuels, the overall emissions of an EV are still lower than those of an ICE vehicle due to the higher efficiency of electric motors and the potential for emissions reductions in the electricity generation sector.
Making the transition to EVs can also bring other benefits, such as lower operating costs, improved air quality, and reduced noise pollution. However, the emissions associated with the manufacturing and disposal of EVs should also be considered when evaluating their overall environmental impact.
Adopting Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions reduction strategies benefits more than just the environment. It also offers significant business benefits for OEMs, such as cost savings, increased sales and customer loyalty.
With the electronics industry a huge contributor to GHG emissions, it's essential for OEMs to begin accounting for and reducing their Scope 1 and 2 emissions. This is also a stepping stone for being able to calculate Scope 3 emissions, which is ultimately where most savings can be made.