Examination of Effectiveness of Remote Recycling Through Material Composition Measurement of Used Small Electronics
In Japan, recycling of precious and critical metals from used products is important. Although a legislation of recycling of small-sized home appliances has been enforced from 2013, return rate of such used products is very low and needs some countermeasures. Especially, reduction of the cost of recycling process is very important. Based on the situation, the study focuses on how to extract useful resources from used small electronics. As one of the methods, the study has proposed a new recycling method named remote recycling. Remote recycling is an idea to reduce such cost for screening by operating the system from remote places where labor cost is relatively cheaper. The objective of the study is to investigate the effectiveness of remote recycling for many kinds of small electronics and to show that the method is hopeful. In the previous studies, the author’s research group has tried to measure material compositions of screened particles and clarified that the method has a certain effectiveness. However, the metal densities may vary due to products. The study compared metal compositions of other small electronics with those of mobile phones and also tried to compare material compositions of manually disassembled printed circuit board (PCB) with remotely separated particles. The comparison showed that the total recoverable value by remote separation is lower than that of manual disassembly by 10–20%. But, 70–80% of the total value could be steadily recovered, whatever the product was. In total, remote recycling can be one solution to boost circular use of natural resources. Through these discussions, the study concluded that the newly proposed method, “remote recycling,” is a promising way to realize high-quality and low-cost recycling of small electronics.
KeywordsSmall electronics Remote recycling Material composition Material value
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