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Lets say we are designing a very simple PCB and there is a layer(s) where not much is going on, from an environmental perspective alone would it be better to leave the layer with a large ground copper solid area, so not much etcher acid is needed, or would the etched copper/acid be reused afterwards by the FAB?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ What about the environmental issues of mining the copper? Disposing of the etching fluid? \$\endgroup\$
    – Solar Mike
    Apr 20 at 3:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ There are many other reasons as well to leave as much copper on the PCB as possible. It etches faster and uses less etchants so it is cheaper to manufacture, not to mention it enables a PCB design which works better (shielding, ground plane). It makes no sense to have just a few wires and etch most of the copper away. \$\endgroup\$
    – Justme
    Apr 20 at 4:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ No offence, but arguments like these are just silly. If you wish to actually make a difference for the environment, then go with halogen-free (RoHS) PCB, don't use flame retardants or conformal coating, and in particular always design in high efficiency switching regulators. I suspect that the biggest environment culprit by far in electronics design are all linear regulators wasting extreme amounts of energy for nothing. \$\endgroup\$
    – Lundin
    Apr 20 at 9:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think the question is useful. When you make 10000 PCB a year, it can make a difference. \$\endgroup\$
    – AdriZ
    Apr 20 at 9:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ Produce in EU or USA in stead of China. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 20 at 11:09

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With the price of copper where it is these days fabrication houses are recycling the etching chemicals to recover the copper.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ This is the sort of thing I wanted the OP to find out. \$\endgroup\$
    – Solar Mike
    Apr 20 at 5:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ By any chance do you have a source or the name of the chemical process? \$\endgroup\$
    – LuisF
    Apr 21 at 12:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ i searched "how is copper recovered from etchant" and found this cemco.com/regen.htm (disclaimer: not a reccomendation) there are no doubt competing products \$\endgroup\$
    – Jasen
    Apr 22 at 0:04

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