Many industries, businesses and consumers are reliant on technology. From air travel to smartphones, we live in an increasingly connected world, with new innovations and advancements made almost daily.

With the demand for technology so high, it means the demand for printed circuit boards (PCBs) is also high – and is expected to be an industry worth more than $119 billion USD by the end of the decade.

With so much technology developed and shipped globally every year, it can have a major environmental impact. Historically, PCB production has been energy-intensive, which has produced high emission rates. No, the impact isn’t quite as big as it is in other industries, but there are still ways the industry can improve and reduce its environmental impact. One major way to achieve this is through efficient PCB design – but what can manufacturers do to make that happen?

In this article, we’re going to explore environmentally sustainable manufacturing of PCBs and let businesses know how they can do more to lower the impact on the environment.

The importance of PCB Design in sustainability

PCB production can have a long and complex supply chain, with different materials, components and substrates coming from suppliers all over the world. Not only does this increase the environmental footprint, but so too can the shipping of the completed PCBs. With more than half of all PCBs now made in China, that can have a major impact on the industry’s environmental footprint. This means, one of the biggest ways to reduce environmental impact is by choosing a manufacturer close to home.

Not only this, but efforts can be made in the design stage that can improve sustainability, such as choosing recyclable and eco-friendly materials and optimising layouts to reduce energy consumption, interference and waste.

Electronic waste causes significant risk and can lead to hazardous substances entering the environment. All efforts should be made to reduce waste and promote recycling and a circular economy.

Benefits of efficient PCB design

The most obvious benefit to efficient PCB design is that there’ll be a far smaller impact on the environment, which helps nurture a healthier ecosystem for future generations. However, there are plenty of benefits beyond that, which can directly impact both PCB manufacturers and their customers, including:

  • The need for fewer resources
  • Reduced costs
  • Lower energy usage
  • A longer product lifespan
  • Increased recyclability
  • Increased compliance
  • A positive impact on your reputation

Case studies: success stories

Here at ABL Circuits, we have a rich history of working with clients across multiple industries to innovate, solve problems, cut costs and drive performance. As part of our ethos for always producing reliable, high-performing and long-lasting PCBs, we also strive to use design techniques and materials that promote PCB sustainability.

To learn more about how we’ve supported businesses with their PCB needs across those in aviation, the military, manufacturing and more, read some of our case studies

Challenges and solutions in sustainable PCB design

Reducing the environmental impact of PCB production is important, but it’s not always easy. It’s also not always the most cost-effective short-term option, which is why many still turn to China for cheaper PCBs.

Some of the most common challenges (and some of our respective solutions) in sustainable PCB design are:

  • Sourcing eco-friendly materials – we are always researching to find new eco-friendly materials to overcome issues, such as by using lead-free solder and halogen-free substrates.
  • High-energy manufacturing processes – we invest in technology and processes to reduce unnecessary energy consumption and promote renewable energy.
  • Manufacturing can produce toxic chemicals and waste – where possible we implement closed-loop systems and reduce the use and production of harmful chemicals.
  • Some PCBs may not be recyclable and produce e-waste – when there are sustainable and recyclable materials available we always incorporate them when possible and promote recycling and responsible e-waste management.
  • Sustainability is often seen as having a large price tag – Some sustainable practices can be pricier, but can lower costs in the long run thanks to increased performance, reliability and longevity.

The role of ABL Circuits in promoting sustainable PCB design

At ABL Circuits, we’re 100% committed to reducing the environmental impact caused by PCB manufacturing. We have more than 30 years of experience, and in that time we’ve seen just how conscious many responsible businesses have become about sustainability. We like to think we’re leading the pack, and are doing what we can to produce a reliable product that reduces waste and increases responsible material and component use.

We’re experts in sustainable PCB design, which means we know how to reduce the environmental impact of what we do while not compromising on performance and reliability. We know exactly the right materials, layouts and components to use to meet all requirements and lessen the impact on the environment. This also benefits our customers by ensuring a high-performing PCB, and can reduce costs and downtime, which can increase reputation, brand image and efficiency.


The industry isn’t yet in a position to claim it’s green or doesn’t have a negative impact on the environment – far from it. But, responsible businesses can make positive changes in several areas, such as by designing efficient PCBs and choosing manufacturers closer to home to lessen the environmental footprint.

There’s no doubt that manufacturers that don’t stick to sustainable practices will save you money in the short term, but in the long run, it’s unlikely to. That’s why we’d recommend partnering with a provider that designs PCBs with efficiency and sustainability in mind, to produce a long-lasting, more reliable and high-performing product that is going to save you money, time and frustrations into the future.

Get in touch with ABL Circuits today to find out how we can support your business

If you’re keen to partner with a sustainable PCB provider, the team at ABL Circuits is here to help. We’ve worked with businesses across a wide range of industries, ensuring performance and reliability thanks to 30 years of industry experience.

Get a free trial today and enhance your product with ABL Circuits.