CSEM's approach to sustainable electronics

Driving sustainability in the IoT era

Abstract image to illustrate sustainable electronics

Sustainable electronics is a crucial concept encompassing the environmentally responsible design, manufacture, use, and disposal of electronic devices. With the massive deployment of the IoT (remote sensing devices), there are three key sustainability aspects to consider:

  • The potential of IoT for resource control and efficiency, leading to significant savings of materials, energy, and waste.
  • The environmental impact of mass IoT device production.
  • The more sustainable material choices for disposable devices.

At CSEM, our primary goal is to reduce the impact of small, yet massively produced electronics through innovative design architectures, materials, and processes. We strive to achieve a drastic reduction in the environmental footprint of electric devices. By incorporating sustainable practices, we aim to pave the way for a more environmentally conscious IoT era.

Understanding the impacts of electronic systems

Life cycle analysis (LCA) © CSEM - Life cycle analysis (LCA) and carbon footprint optimization

Sustainable future for electronic manufacturing starts by thoroughly evaluating the entire product life cycle through Life Cycle Analysis (LCA). By exploring feasible transferability to industry though using Technology Readiness Level (TRL) assessments, we strive to build a more responsible electronic future.

We collaborate closely with industrial companies to study the environmental impacts of small electronic products and develop LCA models that assess potential alternatives. Our key focus is to create portfolios of solutions, encompassing materials, processes, and design architectures, which can be easily adopted by our partners.

To meet the urgent need for sustainable solutions that minimize waste and maximize resource efficiency, we advocate for the principles of circular electronics. We emphasize nine fundamental principles: Rethink, Redesign, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Repair, Remanufacture, Refurbish and Recover. These principles guide us in transforming the way electronics are designed, produced, and consumed, promoting sustainability at every stage of their lifecycle.

Pathways to more sustainable electronics

In the pursuit of sustainability design approaches, we delve into the life span and fate small electronic devices. To address environmental concerns, we adopt three key strategies:

Disposable biomarker detector © CSEM -

Disposable biomarker detector

Design for disposal

For short-lived products, we prioritize materials that enable bio-sourcing, clean incineration, or biodegradability. By carefully selecting eco-friendly materials we ensure responsible disposable practices.

Smart agriculture sensor for leaf monitoring © CSEM -

Smart agriculture sensor for leaf monitoring

Design for disassembly

When non-sustainable materials are unavoidable, we minimize their usage through smart miniaturization. Additionally, we concentrate these materials in easily separable sections, simplifying the reusing or recycling of components.

Long-term heavy-duty springs monitoring sensor

Long-term heavy-duty springs monitoring sensor

Design for longevity

Our focus shifts to developing products with extended operational lifespans, which serves as a counterbalance to their environmental footprint. To achieve this, we tackle challenges in materials, processes, wireless power transfer, battery recycle, and design sciences, while also recognizing the social implications of electronics products on society’s economy, regulations, and public perception.  

Challenges to sustainable electronics

Transforming the mature and optimized electronic manufacturing industry while maintaining cost-effectiveness and competitiveness presents significant challenges. So far, only incremental changes have been considered and implemented due to the competitive environment. Although regulations like the Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) have driven some changes, radical transformations demand practical alternatives identified, evaluated, and implemented in an industrial context.

Sustainability of electronics is a complex problem with no straightforward or unique solution. Product specifics and their applications drive requirements in diverging directions. To address this complexity, technology innovations centers like CSEM, and research and technology organizations (RTOs) like VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, Tyndall National Institute, the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA), and the Fraunhofer Group for Microelectronics propose tailor-made solutions from their portfolios to industries seeking manufacturing transitions. Developing RTOs and academic networks play a vital role in broadening the set of solutions and assembling the right ones.


  1. Deviatkin, I.; Rousu, S.; Ghoreishi, M.; Naji Nassajfar, M.; Horttanainen, M.; Leminen, V.; Implementation of Circular Economy Strategies within the Electronics Sector: Insights from Finnish Companies, Sustainability 2022, 14, 3268; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14063268
  2. Nassajfar M.N.; Deviatkin, I.; Leminen, V.; Horttanainen, M.; Alternative Materials for Printed Circuit Board Production: An Environmental Perspective; Sustainability 2021, 13, 12126; https://doi.org/10.3390/su132112126
Fully biodegradable passive RF tag© GREENsPACK project - Fully biodegradable passive RF tag


Promoting sustainability and reducing electronic waste (e-waste) in the electronics industry are essential for the future of our ecosystem. CSEM remains committed to exploring sustainable electronics solutions and providing alternatives to interested industrial partners. We achieve this by partnering and co-innovating with academic institutions, RTOs, and industry participants in Swiss and European projects such as, TESLA Research Project (funded by CHIST-ERA), SUSTRONICS (KDT), EECONE (KDT), GREENsPACK (BRIDGE), and more. By working together, we strive to a create a more sustainable electronic landscape.

Cover page of the EPoSS White Paper on ECS Sustainability and Environmental Footprint

EPoSS White Paper on Green ECS

Experts from the Smart Systems Integration community of the EPoSS* (European Platform on Smart Systems Integration) association have published the White Paper on Green ECS: "ECS Sustainability and Environmental Footprint" in November 2023.

How to reduce the environmental footprint of ECS (Electronic Components and Systems)?
In the White Paper, a wide range of experts from the Smart Systems Integration community of the EPoSS associations provided their insights on the state-of-the-art technologies and future recommendations in the ECS domain in the context of the EU legislation, international standards and in support of the European Green Deal.

Erika Györvary, Lead of EU Affairs at CSEM, leads the EPoSS Working Group Green ECS and co-edited the White Paper together with Matthias Straub, Climate-Coach with Mittelstand Digital Zentrum Klima.Neutral.Digital. Philippe Dallemagne, Senior Expert & IoT Coordination at CSEM was also member of this joint working group of experts.

*EPoSS is the European Association leading the development and integration of intelligent and green Smart Systems technologies and solutions for a sustainable society.

Ready to make a difference in sustainable electronics?

Reach out to us now to discuss partnership opportunities and explore our cutting-edge approaches.