Recycling solders as a cornerstone of ecologically and humanitarian sustainable electronics manufacturing

Many companies have a high interest in ethical issues. In addition, awareness of sustainability is increasing, which is why existing processes are being reviewed more and more in this regard. Feinhütte Halsbrücke GmbH, Germany’s most complex last tin and lead smelter, however, takes an even broader view of sustainability than is usually the case and takes responsibility for sustainable action.

“In times of increasingly scarce resources, advancing pollution and unchecked climate change, environmentally friendly recycling solutions are essential in all areas of daily life. At the same time, metal processing companies in particular can benefit from potential savings that can be achieved with green metals. It is therefore advisable to scrutinise purchasing and manufacturing processes in a targeted manner,” says Tobias Patzig, authorised signatory of Feinhütte Halsbrücke GmbH.

In this way, CO2 emissions of metals produced from secondary materials can be significantly reduced compared to metal production from primary materials (ore concentrates). At the same time, the material origin of metals does not necessarily say anything about its purity or quality. Rather, the decisive parameters are the type, scope and quality of the reprocessing processes used, the know-how brought in and the performance of the aggregates. After all, unlike other raw materials such as paper or plastic, metals can be recycled as often as desired without any loss of quality and can be reused without restriction.

The alloys and metals obtained from manifold recycling processes from centuries of experience, modern plants and with optimised production processes and offered as wire, ingots, bars, bulk material or similar are in no way inferior to primary materials. On the contrary. The GreenTin+ tin extracted by Feinhütte Halsbrücke using upcycling processes developed in-house has a purity level of 99.99 %. This means that it clearly surpasses the qualities of imported tin from primary raw materials that are common on the market. GreenTin+ is suitable for the production of extremely high-quality products, such as those needed in electronics manufacturing for power electronics.

As the world’s first manufacturer of tin that can provide certified proof of the use of 100 % recycled material, Feinhütte Halsbrücke thus offers its customers a new option for sustainability. There is no need to deviate from the usual requirements. The solders made from recycled tin have a 99 % lower CO2 footprint compared to their counterparts made from primary materials. In addition, the sustainable recycling of tin significantly reduces the energy input throughout the entire manufacturing process. By eliminating ore mining, processing and smelting, the energy demand is reduced to a minimum. 

Last but not least, the Supply Chain Act, which will come into force from 2023, will also impose numerous new obligations on all companies. Here, recycling processes offer potential savings through optimised supply routes. Shortening the often very long transport routes minimises the ecological impact and the risk of delivery delays. In addition, the direct purchase of consumables eliminates the reporting obligation. “If companies use recycled metals, multiple legal risks can be avoided. Moreover, there is no need to build up additional capacities for checking the manufacturing and origin criteria of imported materials. This significantly reduces the workload for companies,” concludes Patzig. 

Finally, the sustainable, resource-saving soldering process also plays an important role. For this reason, Feinhütte Halsbrücke has been working closely with the flux specialist Emil Otto GmbH and the expert for selective soldering automation, Eutect GmbH, on new innovative soldering processes for almost a year. How customers benefit in detail from the cooperation, which is based on open technology exchange and maximum solution orientation, will be presented by the partners at their joint exhibition stand 315 in Hall A4 during the leading electronics trade fair “productronica” taking place in Munich from 16-19 November 2021.


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