The electronics industry, especially meaning consumer electronics, emerged in the 20th century and has now become a global industry worth billions of dollars. Contemporary society uses all manner of electronic devices built in automated or semi-automated factories operated by the industry. Products are assembled from integrated circuits, principally by photolithography of printed circuit boards.
The size of the industry and the use of toxic materials, as well as the difficulty of recycling has led to a series of problems with electronic waste. International regulation and environmental legislation has been developed in an attempt to address the issues
Semiconductors, metals, and ceramics are used today to form highly complex systems, such as integrated electronic circuits, optoelectronic devices, and magnetic and optical mass storage media. These materials form the basis of our modern computing world, and hence research into these materials is of vital importance.
Consumer electronics are products intended for everyday use, most often in entertainment, communications and office productivity. Radio broadcasting in the early 20th century brought the first major consumer product, the broadcast receiver. Later products include personal computers, telephones, MP3 players, audio equipment, televisions, calculators, GPS automotive electronics, digital cameras and players and recorders using video media such as DVDs, VCRs or camcorders. Increasingly these products have become based on digital technologies, and have largely merged with the computer industry in what is increasingly referred to as the consumerization of information technology.
Electrical waste contains hazardous but also valuable and scarce materials and up to 60 elements can be found in complex electronics.
The United States and China are the world leaders in producing electronic waste, each tossing away about 3 million tons each year. China also remains a major e-waste dumping ground for developed countries.The UNEP estimate that the amount of e-waste being produced – including mobile phones and computers – could rise by as much as 500 percent over the next decade in some developing countries, such as India