Material breakthrough will facilitate electronics recycling

A UK-based materials specialist has produced a circuit board substrate that dissolves in water, allowing the components to be recovered and recycled.

Jiva Materials Ltd has developed a patented, fully recyclable printed circuit board (PCB) substrate it calls Soluboard.

The company recently secured £1 million ($1.7 million) in funding to commercialize the product.

“All of us at Jiva are very thankful for the support from our shareholders, both new and old. We look forward to bringing Soluboard to market by working with key players in the world of electronics,” said Jonathan Swanston, CEO of Jiva Materials Ltd.

“It is time for us to take responsibility for our products and the impacts that they are having on the planet.”

Every year 18 billion square metres of PCBs are manufactured. The rising value of the precious metals within PCBs, and an increasing global awareness of environmental issues both mean that efficient recycling is a necessity.

The organic structure of Soluboard means the non-toxic ingredients begin to delaminate when immersed into hot water. This allows the natural plant-based fibres to be composted, the remaining solution to be disposed of using standard domestic waste water systems and the electronic components to be removed for re-processing.

On a global scale, more than 57 million tonnes of Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) is produced every year. This number shows no sign of decreasing and the UK contributes an average of two million tonnes to the fastest growing waste stream every year.

Jiva says Soluboard will allow users to reduce the CO2 equivalent by 60% compared to existing circuit board substrates.

A wide range of blue-chip electronic manufacturers, including EU domestic appliance and white goods manufacturers, have confirmed their interest in Soluboard. Tighter regulations are being placed on manufacturers of electronics to put the responsibility of recycling firmly with the producer.