Resources, Conservation and Recycling vol:84 pages:35-43
Annually 2.7 million tonnes of plastics containing Flame Retardants (FRs) are globally discarded in Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE). Little is known on the feasibility of closing material loops for FR plastics. Therefore, series of experiments were set up to analyze the feasibility of separating plastics containing FRs from one specific product category, namely End-of-Life (EoL) Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) TVs. The characterization of the housings of this waste stream indicated a concentration of 18 wt% Bromine based (Br) FRs and 31 wt% Phosphor based (P) FRs, the remainder not containing FRs. With practical tests it was demonstrated that, after disassembly and plastic identification, the co-polymer poly-carbonate (PC)/acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) containing PFR can be recycled in a closed loop system. Based on the determined plastic density distributions and separation efficiencies of optical sorters, a purity of 82% was calculated for PFR PC/ABS separated from EoL LCD TVs after size-reduction (shredding). Performed miscibility tests indicated that for this fraction at least a factor 10 dilution with virgin material is required. In addition, higher waste volumes are required for a size-reduction based treatment to become economically viable and technical challenges still need to be faced, whereas closed loop recycling of PFR PC/ABS from the current waste stream of EoL LCD TVs of different brands in a disassembly based treatment is found to be technically feasible and economically viable under European boundary conditions.