Life cycle thinking as decision making support in the semiconductor industry

Sara Carniello

Research output: ThesisMaster's Thesis (University Course)


The modern sensibility on environmental topics makes a responsible handling of envi-ronmental and social issues imperative for any enterprise. Every firm must ensure con-formity with mandatory environmental requirements, often extended with voluntary requirements. Many firms engage beyond this, and want to include environmental aspects in product development, supply chain management, manufacturing. To go in this direction, a life cycle perspective, or life cycle thinking, is necessary, where the environmental burdens linked to the product are analyzed in all life phases, from the cradle to the grave. Many companies exploit already its possibilities in eco-design, product development, corporate communication, risk management (compliance). The semiconductor industry is one of the fastest growing industries since the 80’. For a long time it had a reputation of a clean industry, partly because of its manufacturing environment (cleanroom, highly pure raw material), partly because the toxic chemicals used in production do not end up in the final product , partly because of the tiny size of its products. In recent years the direct environmental impact of this industry has been regarded more closely, with a particular focus on three aspects: the source of raw materials, the massive use of chemicals, and the high energy consumption. The indirect impacts in semiconductor and ICT products are very complex to estimate, but also very important because of the changes in social habits linked to these technologies (substitution of traditional products, de-materialization, re-bound). All these impacts can be highlighted at best with LCA. The semiconductor industry has some peculiarities that make the employment of LCA difficult. The complexity of processes, together with the short product life cycles and the interlinked supply chain make data collection very complicated, and at the same time the pressure from public authorities and consumers to improve the environmental impacts is still weak. The present work aims to clarify if LCA can be a valid instrument for strategic decisions in the semiconductor industry, as it is in other branches. The study extends the system boundaries from the integrated chip (IC), the actual product, to the application, as suggested by Stobbe. After giving an overview on the life cycle approach and its adoption in the industry in general, the specifics of the semiconductor industry are illustrated. Finally, the potentials of the use of life cycle thinking in ams are considered, first by analyzing ams’ business model and strategy, then through practical case studies, which give also a rough overview on the steps necessary for an implementation of this method in the company.
Translated title of the contributionLife Cycle Thinking als Instrument für die Entscheidungsfindung in der Halbleiterindustrie
Original languageEnglish
  • Schröder, Werner, Supervisor (internal)
Award date19 Dec 2014
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Bibliographical note

embargoed until null


  • Life-cycle
  • semiconductor
  • ICT
  • LCA
  • sustainability

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