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Electronics Scrap: Regaining Lost Ground

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by - 12/7/2015 2192 Views

Methods & Efforts Encouraging WEEE scrap (waste electrical and electronic equipment)

In the past ten years the U.S. electronics recycling industry has shown tremendous growth. This developing segment of the scrap recycling industry provides a boost of approximately $20.6 billion, including exports of $1.45 billion, to the U.S. economy (up from less than $1 billion in 2002) and provides employment to more than 45,000 full time employees (up from 6,000 in 2002).

The U.S. electronics recycling industry processed more than 4.4 million tons of used and end-of-life electronics equipment in the year 2011. More than 70 percent of the collected equipment is manufactured into specification grade commodities — including scrap steel, aluminum, copper, lead, circuit boards, plastics, and glass. These valuable commodities are then sold to basic materials manufacturers in the United States and globally as raw material feedstock for new products, such as steel, copper, aluminum, plastic, and glass.

Today Recyclers, repair, refurbish and resell electronic scrap functioning equipment as used products into domestic and international markets. Companies also provide a number of logistical services, like collection, storage and transportation as well as scrubbing hard drives of sensitive personal and commercial data.          

The electronic scrap industry is driven by equipment collected from businesses and commercial interests, comprising up to 75 percent of the market on a volume basis. The electronics recycling industry is poised to meet the anticipated increased demand for more used products and specification grade commodities.

Retention of Used Electronic Products (UEPs):    

In February 2013, the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) released its study on Used Electronic Products: An Examination of U.S. Exports, the most comprehensive report on the collection and export of UEPs that found over 80% of the UEPs collected in the U.S. were recycled, reused or refurbished domestically while only 17% of UEPs were being sent for export. A subsequent report released by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Materials Systems Laboratory and the U.S. National Center for Electronics Recycling (NCER) in 2013 indicates that more than 90 percent of used electronics collected for recycling within the U.S. remain in the U.S. for processing and are not exported. Taken together, the USITC and MIT/NCER studies provide irrefutable evidence that used electronics products are being reused and recycled in America, not “dumped” into developing countries as proponents of export controls have argued for years. (Source: www.isri.org/recycling-industry/commodities-specifications/electronic-scrap#.VmURU7iGSko) 

Companies from several links in the manufacturing and recycling supply chain have invested to offer more end-of-life options for collected WEEE scrap (waste electrical and electronic equipment). Presenters at the 2015 Electronics Recycling Asia event, held in Singapore in mid-November, portrayed several recent efforts.  

Sreepadaraj Karanam, from the Singapore office of Saudi Arabia-based SABIC, said his company is working with OEMs to explore the “opportunity for upcycling” the stream of plastic scrap that comprises part of the overall WEEE sector.

The company has developed several exclusive recycled-content resins, said Karanam, that offer a “cradle-to-cradle” mechanical recycling option for plastics derived from the e-scrap stream. SABIC’s goal, he said, is “to be a global supplier of choice of recycled resins.”

The custom resins produced by SABIC include one made from polystyrene compact disc and DVD jewel cases and others made from polycarbonate and ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) plastic scrap

Barriers remain, said Karanam, including achieving sufficient economies of scale and convincing buyers to overcome some aesthetic objections, including comparatively restricted color choices versus virgin resins. But “if we do this right,” said Karanam, “we believe there is an opportunity for innovation along the entire value chain.”

Ted Pak of the South Korean regional office of Germany-based TOMRA Sorting Solutions GmbH, said the wide variety of sorting and separating equipment available from the company has increased the quantity and quality of secondary commodities recoverable from obsolete electronics

Among the electronic scrap available from TOMRA are NIR (near infrared), XRT (X-ray transmission) and XRF (X-ray fluorescence) devices that can conduct automated metals and polymer sorting of shredded e-scrap, said Park

He offered an example of a refrigerator shredding and recycling plant where a TOMRA retrofit created a system that now produces 97-to-99 percent pure aluminum and copper fractions; a 97-to-99 percent pure ABS fraction; and a 94-to-96 percent pure polypropylene product. “Their bargaining power has increased” when selling materials, said Park, and the company earned a return on investment in the system in less than one year, he added.

Professor Ma Hsiao-Kang of National Taiwan University provided an overview of a mobile hydrometallurgical tin and gold stripping process offered by Taiwan-based UWin Nanotech Company Ltd.

The product is ideal for recovering 99.9 percent pure gold and 99.96 percent pure tin oxide from printed circuit boards in a safe and environmentally sound way, said Ma. He said Uwin also is developing other products, including a system to recover copper from mixed materials.

Electronics Recycling Asia 2015 was organized by Switzerland-based ICM AG and held at the Shangri-La Hotel in Singapore Nov. 10-13.

(Source: http://www.recyclingtodayglobal.com/article/electronics-recycling-asia-technology-markets)

Category : Electronics

Tags : Electronics Scrap, Electronics Scrap News, Electronics Scrap Market, Electronics Scrap Trend, Electronics cureent Scrap Trend


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