It almost seems too easy. With government funding, a trio of British companies recently developed a new way to build circuit boards that makes them 90 per cent recyclable. In fact, all you have to do to recycle them is dunk them in hot water and scrape off the circuits with a business card.
The innovation was made possible thanks to a new conductive adhesive system. Circuit board manufacturers simply attach the components to a recyclable thermoplastic substrate using this special adhesive. Dipping the whole assembly into almost-boiling water causes the adhesive to soften enough that the components can be scraped off and reused.
“What happens to end of life electronics is one of the fastest growing waste streams,” Chris Hunt, who helped develop the new technology, told The Guardian. “Existing electronic circuit assemblies are based on reinforced epoxy glass systems and solder… that isn’t easily recyclable.” However, he adds, “This is definitely not a solution for all types of electronic technologies.”