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High quality plastic materials from electronic wastes by use of combined identification methods and new handling technologies

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Do PCs reincarnate?

Plastic parts of old electronic devices can be reused as a “raw material” for the production of new plastic products. Recycling of plastic parts could be a viable procedure by using automation. ID-line is a system which by incorporating automatic sophisticated procedures for cleaning, identifying and sorting plastic components can deliver high quality plastic.

Industrial Technologies icon Industrial Technologies

Recycling is an idea emerged from the need for better management of resources as well as from the demand to decrease pollution. Many electronic devices consist of plastic parts in a percentage of 10-40% and may be more. These parts can be collected and reused. Although recycling of plastic parts is very useful, in order to be a viable procedure it should also be cost effective. The only means by which this can be achieved is by automation. Within the project COMBIDENT, a device called ID-line has been developed aiming at manufacturing of high quality recycling plastic. This device incorporates innovative ideas which enable recycling of electronic wastes to be a profit making procedure. The electronic waste (TVs, PCs etc) is placed on a conveyor belt; a sophisticated identification method identifies the plastic component as well as the quality of the plastic. Then the various components are sorted according to their quality. The key points to this procedure are identification and quality. There is a big variety of polymers that are used for the production of plastics and this affects not only the identification procedure but also the quality of the final product. Moreover the plastic components are either covered with other non-plastic materials, or have been elaborated in a manner that makes them difficult to be identified. ID-line uses in combination of three identification methods controlled by an identification algorithm. With these methods different polymers can be identified and sorted accordingly. The resulting polymeric fractions have purities from 85-100% and due to this purity can be better commercialised. Since discarded PC's and electronic equipment have non-biodegradable materials in them, and present challenges for disposal purposes, recycling these parts makes good financial and environmental sense.

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