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Planning for End of Life of Electronic Components

written by: Om Thoke • edited by: Lamar Stonecypher • updated: 2/28/2011

The rate of electronic devices usage has grown drastically in the last two decades. A huge number of these electronic parts go to waste once their usefulness expires. This post discusses planning for end of life electronic components, ways to reuse or recycle them, and finding replacements.

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    How Soon Do Electronic Parts Become Obsolete

    In the earlier days, people never had an idea of recycling disposed electronic components; they just used to toss them out. However, in more recent times, engineers have realized that the waste electronic parts usually contain lots of priceless minerals. So, they've thought about recycling these parts as it also contributes to a reduction in global warming. The environmental cost related to managing the components at the end of life is quite significant; hence, the concerned authorities are now encouraging recycling and recovery practices.

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    Planning for EOL

    end of life of electronic parts   EOL (end of life) notification of a particular semiconductor or electronic component means that you need to quickly find a replacement, and dispose off those parts sensibly. You may even find that the components become obselete and unavailable before the device itself stops working.

    So OEMs and companies ought to plan ahead and not make assumptions about the availability of critical electronic parts, right from the time the part is first used or even when it is designed.

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    Often it's possible to re-use the electronic parts, but the process of re-certification, and getting those re-used parts back into usage, is laborious and expensive. As a result, folks don't bother to do so, and rather plan for end of life of such electronic parts.

    However, there's a strong need to consider re-use of such electronic parts, and make this process easy enough that everyone considers it much more seriously.

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    Recycling Electronics

    If you cannot repair or reuse the old electronic parts or devices, then the best option that is left is recycling. Such a step helps in reducing pollution created while manufacturing a new component and the energy that is used for manufacturing one.

    The best choices for recycling computers or other electronic parts, depends upon the place where you reside; the options include county drop-off center for recycling, electronics recycling establishments, charitable organizations, or the local dealers who send the waste items to a recycler. Several manufacturers of electronic products also accept used components for recycling purposes.

    If you are not aware of a place where you can recycle the electronic goods, you can log on to mygreenelectronics and enter your zip code in the relevant search field to find the nearest recycler.

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    Reusing Electronics

    While all kinds of electronic goods can be reused, there some gadgets like computers, television, etc that can be reused if they are still in operating condition.

    Such products can be donated thereby being beneficial for the society also. This way, you will also be able to help people who will otherwise not be able to afford such goods.

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    Current Trends

    Electronic parts had life of 40-50 years, which reduced to 20-25years in the 90s. In the new millennium, the EOL has even reduced to 10 years, and today we see many electronic parts that have 4-5years of life span.

    It's really tought to predict the future trends, but many websites like the SiliconExpert have been making several predictions that have been fairly close estimates of the real life scenario.

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    Environmental Benefits of Recycling of Electronic Parts

    Generally, electronic parts are manufactured using highly engineered components and valuable resources like plastic, metal, glass, etc; all these need energy to be mined and manufactured. Hence, recycling of these goods contribute largely for conserving the natural resources thereby avoiding pollution and greenhouse gas emission caused by developing these products.

    For instance, a single metric ton of circuit boards usually includes 40-800 times the gold ore concentrations that are mined in the US and 30 to 40 times the copper ore concentrations.

    From the above discussion, one can realize the importance of waste electronic goods. It is not safe to dispose such products in the trash can as the harmful contaminants (like lead, fire retardants, cadmium) present in them can react and cause environmental hazards.

    It's good to see that there is huge increase in the percentage of people looking out for ways to get rid of the 'end of life' electronic components. This shows that there is an increase in the awareness amongst the public about the ecological impact of such products and proper disposal of electronic parts to help the go-green cause.