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International Organization for Chemical Sciences in Development

Current Activitues

Current Activities: Green and Sustainable Electronics (GSE)


Electronics is one of today’s most highly developed and pervasive technologies. The ever-growing demand for electronic devices, combined with the rapidly changing demands on consumer electronics to keep up with performance requirements, has unfortunately led to massive amounts of waste of electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE or e-waste) that contains hazardous substances that pose major health and environmental concerns (such as mercury and lead). When e-waste does not end up in landfills, makeshift facilities will burn or process them manually. Typically, women and children operate these improvised stations to extract the precious metals e-waste contains for needed subsistence revenue, with significant health consequences (developmental in children, reproductive in women). Furthermore, conventional electronics makes use of critical and scarce chemical elements, potentially leading to a shortage of mineral resources and geopolitical conflicts, and its manufacturing contributes to 4 % greenhouse gas (GHG) of global emissions. On the other hand, the presence of valuable metals in the WEEE stream constitutes economic opportunities for the recycling industry. There is 100 times more gold in a ton of mobile phones than in a ton of gold ore [1]. The material value alone is worth US$ 62.5 billion.

A paradigm shift is needed to promote sustainability in electronics by bringing the industrial, political and scientific communities to act in a way that techno-economic, environmental, educational and social performance come together.

The Working Group

The IOCD Working Group on Green and Sustainable Electronics (WG-GSE) was launched in 2023. It is headed by Dr Teresa Cecchi, who works in the fields of analytical chemistry and e-waste. Dr Cecchi is based at the Istituto Tecnico Tecnologico (ITT) G & M Montani, Fermo, Italy.

T. Cecchi

Dr T. Cecchi

The IOCD Working Group on Green and Sustainable Electronics proposes a sustainable approach to recover and upcycle precious, strategic and critical elements from e-waste [1,2]. Among all SDGs, its approach prioritizes SDG13 and SDG5 : for every ton of e-waste recycled, it is possible to avoid the release of 1.44 tons of CO2 in the atmosphere (SDG13); by working to make recycling safe & sustainable and to transform recycling from sustenance activities to profitable ones, this project contributes to the pursuit of women’s empowerment and gender equality (SDG5). The developed technologies were fully and globally recognized in the Elsevier Foundation “Chemistry for Climate Action Challenge” among the top tier proposals in 2023 [3] and 2024 [4].

The research objectives for the GSE group include:

  1. optimization of recovery and recycling of components from existing WEEE with a special focus on precious metals (to date Gold, Palladium, and Ruthenium);
  2. re-envisioning of electronics’ design by bringing together the best of conventional inorganic electronics and emerging organic technologies and developing manufacturing processes that minimize the environmental footprint;
  3. exploration of the organic biodegradable electronics route (biodegradation and composting as end-of-life scenarios for organic electronics);
  4. education and teaching in green chemistry and sustainable electronics;
  5. outreach in occasions such that Science Festivals to communicate the pivotal role of green chemistry in sustainable electronics;
  6. diffusion of the annual essay competition “Young Voices in the Chemical Sciences for Sustainability” organized by IOCD in collaboration with the Royal Society of Chemistry.

C. Santato

Prof C. Santato

This IOCD Working Group collaborates with the UNESCO Chair in Green and Sustainable Electronics (Chair Holder Prof Clara Santato, Department of Engineering Physics), based at Polytechnique Montreal, awarded in 2023. The Chair’s programme focuses on the environmental burden of WEEE and collaborates with Sub-Saharan countries that have been considered e-waste dumping sites, for recovery, upcycling efforts and eco-design.


  1. T. Cecchi, Z. Gao, C. Clement, A. Camus, A Karim, O. Girard and C. Santato. Recovery of gold from E-waste via food waste byproducts. Nanotechnology 2023, 34, 065203.
  2. T. Cecchi, Z. Gao, C. Clement, Y. Matos Peralta, O. Girard and C. Santato. Recovery of Palladium from Waste Fashion Items through Food Waste By-Products. RSC Sustain. 2023, 1, 2350-2357.
  3. T. Cecchi and C. Santato. Gold from e-waste by food waste. Sustainable gold recovery for inclusive prosperity, Elsevier Foundation “Chemistry for Climate Action Challenge”, 2023.
  4. T. Cecchi, C. Santato and C. Dridi. Green upcycling of e-waste for food and water quality monitoring, Elsevier Foundation “Chemistry for Climate Action Challenge”, 2024.

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