Sunday, November 24, 2013

Options for E-waste Plastic

The New Zealand Government has issued reports of two studies it commissioned on how to dealing with plastic which contains Brominated flame retardant (BFR) chemicals. These plastics have been commonly used in computers and other electronic devices. The chemicals are banned under the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs). The result is e-waste which is difficult to dispose of. Available are:
  1. Managing waste that may contain brominated flame retardants,
  2. Brominated flame retardant research: A pilot study of e-waste plastic sorting in New Zealand (AS140193), Geoff Latimer, NVIRON Australia Pty Ltd, for NZ Ministry for the Environment, September 2013. The study found most CRT TVs in NZ were manufactured in Asia after 1990 without POP-BDEs. A small number of older units from Europe may contain the chemical. Photocopiers and printers are likely to be POP-BDE free. There was limited evidence on POP-BDEs in CRT computer monitors, so the authors recommended monitors should be assumed to contain them. But LCD computer monitors are unlikely to contain the chemical.
  3. Brominated Flame Retardant Research: A cost-benefit analysis of sorting options for e-waste plastics, ACIL Allen Consulting Pty Ltd, for NZ Ministry for the Environment, October 2013. The report compared visual inspection of items versus use of a handheld "XRF scanner" which uses X-rays to detect the chemicals.  The report concludes that the scanners can't sufficient distinguish between POP-BDE and the more benign chemicals used to replace them, resulting in a large number of false positives. The report concludes XRF is more expensive and does not give any better identification result.

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