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Environ Sci Technol. 2003 Dec 1;37(23):5463-70.

Plastics disassembly versus bulk recycling: engineering design for end-of-life electronics resource recovery.

Author information

1
School of Industrial Engineering, Department of Chemistry, Purdue University, 315 North Grant Street, West Lafayette, Indiana 47907-2023, USA.

Abstract

Annual plastic flows through the business and consumer electronics manufacturing supply chain include nearly 3 billion lb of high-value engineering plastics derived from petroleum. The recovery of resource value from this stream presents critical challenges in areas of materials identification and recycling process design that demand new green engineering technologies applied together with life cycle assessment and ecological supply chain analysis to create viable plastics-to-plastics supply cycles. The sustainable recovery of potentially high-value engineering plastics streams requires that recyclers either avoid mixing plastic parts or purify later by separating smaller plastic pieces created in volume reduction (shredding) steps. Identification and separation constitute significant barriers in the plastics-to-plastics recycling value proposition. In the present work, we develop a model that accepts randomly arriving electronic products to study scenarios by which a recycler might identify and separate high-value engineering plastics as well as metals. Using discrete eventsimulation,we compare current mixed plastics recovery with spectrochemical plastic resin identification and subsequent sorting. Our results show that limited disassembly with whole-part identification can produce substantial yields in separated streams of recovered engineering thermoplastics. We find that disassembly with identification does not constitute a bottleneck, but rather, with relatively few workers, can be configured to pull the process and thus decrease maximum staging space requirements.

PMID:
14700333
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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