What does a sustainable semiconductor supply chain look like in 2024?

Published: 9-Nov-2023

The climate crisis is ramping up and personal protection providers are having to find ways to join the mitigation push. Bobby Lin from AFC discusses

In the intricate realm of technological evolution, the semiconductor industry has stood as a bedrock of innovation, driving the development of modern devices that underpin our interconnected world.

With recent humbling reports of the sea surface temperature hitting new heights even earlier than expected, sustainability in the supply chain must be considered in every industry, including the production of semiconductors. 

As we usher in the year 2024, a seismic shift is underway within the semiconductor supply chain, fuelled by an unyielding commitment to sustainability. Within this dynamic landscape, one company, Asiatic Fiber Corporation (AFC) is leading the charge and introducing a groundbreaking product that heralds a transformative era: AFC eco-cycle Cleanroom Apparel.

Leading the sustainable charge

At the core of this groundbreaking achievement is the composition of AFC eco-cycle Cleanroom Apparel. A testament to ingenuity, this garment marks the industry's first foray into cleanroom wear crafted from over 90% recycled polyester content. This feat is made possible through cutting-edge textile recycling techniques, where PET bottles and fabric scraps find new life. The environmental impact is nothing short of staggering, with CO2 emissions slashed by up to 77% and water resource consumption curtailed by 90%.

The new innovation embraces a strategy of fabric scraps repurposing

Yet, the true significance of this type of product becomes more profound when the scale is considered. The production of a single eco-friendly cleanroom garment requires the repurposing of no fewer than five recycled PET bottles. In a global cleanroom apparel market that clamours for over 40 million pieces annually, the adoption of such sustainable alternatives holds the potential to initiate an epoch of waste reduction and environmental stewardship within the cleanroom industry.

Triadngenious waste reduction approaches

The potency of AFC eco-cycle Cleanroom Apparel resides in its integration of three groundbreaking waste reduction approaches:

Recycled materials: Harnessing the potency of recycled polyester content, effectively diminishing the demand for virgin materials. This not only reduces the carbon footprint associated with manufacturing new fabrics but also champions the reduction of post-consumer waste.

Fabric scraps repurposing: Departing from the conventional, the new innovation embraces a strategy of fabric scraps repurposing. This approach not only curbs waste generation but also ameliorates the environmental toll of the manufacturing process.

Solution-dyed process: AFC champions a solution-dyed process, a technique that bears two benefits. Beyond elevating the fabric's colourfastness and durability, this process significantly truncates water usage and minimises the release of potentially harmful chemicals into the environment.

A ripple effect

Starting in 2022, AFC shifted its focus to repurposing waste generated during textile production, previously considered as scraps, by incorporating them into regenerated fibres using improved processes and innovative techniques.

This approach aims to offer customers an alternative mindset on waste reduction through advanced textile technology. 

The hope is that this sets a new benchmark and emboldens other entities within the semiconductor ecosystem

By pioneering environmentally conscious practices, the hope is that this sets a new benchmark and emboldens other entities within the semiconductor ecosystem to embrace similar sustainable principles. Catalysing a cascade of change that would accelerate throughout the industry.

As the calendar advances deeper into 2024, the spotlight on sustainability within the semiconductor sector intensifies. The idea is, that if a few companies can prove that innovation and environmental responsibility are not adversaries, but instead are harmonious collaborators, this might make a real impact.

In an era where technological advancement and ecological guardianship coalesce, products like the eco-cycle Cleanroom Apparel stand as a beacon of hope.

Proving the point

So what needs to be done to make sure products like the eco-cycle Cleanroom Apparel are taken up by the industry?

What does a sustainable semiconductor supply chain look like  in 2024?

There needs to be unequivocal proof that these new products meet their predecessors in functional quality. For AFC, this is further underscored by its partnership with DASTEX, a German collaborator. DASTEX is currently conducting a Body-Box Study to validate that cleanroom garments made from recycled materials are on par with those crafted from new fabrics, in terms of quality metrics such as particle filtration and particle release.

This study reinforces the idea to the semiconductor industry that producing environmentally friendly products can be done without compromising on performance or excellence.

Strides into a future aligned with values

But the journey towards a greener future can’t be completed by a single company. For sufficient impact, there must be collective strides of the entire industry, emboldened by the promise of a greener, more responsible tomorrow.

As technologies evolve and consumer demands pivot toward sustainability, every actor within the semiconductor supply chain plays a vital role in sculpting this future.

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From material sourcing and production processes to energy consumption and waste management, each facet of the semiconductor industry is primed for transformation. Collaborative efforts between stakeholders, technological innovation, and the integration of sustainable practices into every aspect of the supply chain pave the path to a sustainable semiconductor ecosystem.
As the curtains draw on our exploration of a sustainable semiconductor supply chain, one fact emerges clear: the semiconductor industry stands on the cusp of a new dawn. Products in the supply chain that consider every aspect of sustainability in their creation symbolise not just a product, but a philosophy that embodies the ideals of environmental stewardship, innovation, and progress. It's a reminder that, in our journey to propel humanity forward, we must also safeguard the planet that sustains us.

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