Challenges and Opportunities in Organic Electronics Recycling

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Organic electronics, or “polytronics,” using electrically conductive plastics, offer advantages like replacing rare materials and reducing CO2 emissions. Polytronics apply carbon-based components in thin layers on flexible substrates, providing wider applications and material savings. For example, they eliminate the need for rare and toxic resources in solar cells and OLED technology used in screens. Organic electronics have reached a critical point due to their $25 billion market, particularly in OLED displays. Recycling limitations and the need for improved component efficiency are concerns. In his recent interview for “Frankfurter Rundschau” Christoph emphasizes the importance of minimizing the ecological footprint of electronic components throughout their lifecycle. The focus should be on the advancing polytronics through new materials, efficient manufacturing, and inkjet printing without harmful solvents. Christoph urges early recycling considerations in the laboratory, with multilayer designs facilitating material separation and recycling. Adopting a cradle-to-cradle approach will make organic electronics a vital part of the energy transition.