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Eco-Design: A 20-Year Forecast from the 2017 iNEMI Roadmap

Pamela Gordon, Antea Group
by Pamela Gordon, Antea Group on Jun 8, 2017 10:01:38 PM

Green-globe-mouse.jpgYou may have planned tonight’s dinner, and perhaps even have reservations for this summer’s vacation. But have you mapped out how your company’s products will succeed in the economic and natural environments 20 years from now? Fortunately, the International Electronics Manufacturing Initiative (iNEMI) has forecast critical technological and sustainability trends for the electronics industry with its 2017 Roadmap. 

To know where we're going we must know where we've been

One of the roadmap’s chapters is focused on Sustainable Electronics, and includes sections on Eco-Design, Materials, Energy, End-of-Life, and overall Product Sustainability. The Eco-Design team members included representatives from Nokia, Oracle, IBM, Thermo Fisher Scientific, Design Chain Associates, ECD Compliance, Earth Shift Global, Green Electronics Council, and Antea Group. I chaired the team, working with Bill Schaeffer of Nokia as co-chair.

The team started by characterizing the electronics industry’s eco-design progress in 2016 in the areas of deployment, enablement tools, and Circular Economy practice. We found that practices to design in “beyond-regulatory” eco-design parameters were primarily used only by industry leaders.

A 20-year vision for eco-design

The team then worked to forecast progress expected by 2021, 2026, and 2036. Following is what we envisioned.


The team forecast that more companies will deploy eco-design programs to keep up with and exceed increasing regulatory and customer requirements. By 2021, the industry will have developed and ratified eco-design parameters for materials and components throughout product life cycles, and have begun creating industry-wide communication processes about these parameters. Moving toward wider engagement in Circular Economy practices, the industry will have developed definitions, standards, business models (e.g., leasing), and infrastructure (e.g., reverse logistics, efficient processing).


Electronics companies in 2026 will have embedded eco-design into all processes (as occurred with quality in the 1990s). Their eco-design programs will holistically consider and significantly reduce all environmental impacts of electronics throughout product life cycles. Most electronics companies will have integrated eco-design tools into their design processes, and will be communicating parameters using agreed-upon processes.University business and engineering degrees will require eco-design curriculum, and the industry will have achieved global harmonization of Circular Economy requirements, with full industry leader participation.


The team’s vision is that, 20 years from now, eco-design will be universally applied to ensure that all electronic products are environmentally and socially sustainable. Product launch teams will have full access to life cycle impact information. The electronics industry will have ubiquitously adopted the Circular Economy, fully eschewing the Linear Model (extract-consume-waste).

Toward a bright future

While we hope tonight’s dinner and this summer’s vacation work out for you as planned, we also recommend that you think bigger and start planning your company’s path to successful and profitable products and services. Given the undeniably changing global, business, and environmental climates, the prospects for eco-design implementation look bright, and you want to make sure your organization is part of that leading edge and reaping the benefits.

About the iNEMI Roadmap

The Sustainable Electronics chapter is one of 28 chapters included in the 2017 iNEMI Roadmap. These chapters look at seven product sectors and 21 technology areas that cover the full electronics manufacturing supply chain. The roadmap is now available for purchase on the iNEMI website, and is free to members. Additional information

This post was featured in the Antea Group blog on March 8, 2017. 

Pamela Gordon, Antea Group
Pamela Gordon is Senior Consultant for the Antea Group in the areas of Sustainability and Operational Performance Assurance. She is also the TFI-Antea Group Collaboration Leader, responsible for coalescing the areas of expertise for Technology Forecasters Inc. (TFI), the consultancy she founded in 1987, and Antea Group to bring more client organizations to higher levels of profitable sustainability.  Her focus is on creating and implementing profitable environmental sustainability strategies for products, services, and operations, with specialties in the electronics industry and supply chains. For additional information:

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