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Recycling of non-metallic fractions from waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE): a review

Ruixue Wang, Zhenming Xu
Waste Management 2014, 34 (8): 1455-69
24726822
The world's waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) consumption has increased incredibly in recent decades, which have drawn much attention from the public. However, the major economic driving force for recycling of WEEE is the value of the metallic fractions (MFs). The non-metallic fractions (NMFs), which take up a large proportion of E-wastes, were treated by incineration or landfill in the past. NMFs from WEEE contain heavy metals, brominated flame retardant (BFRs) and other toxic and hazardous substances. Combustion as well as landfill may cause serious environmental problems. Therefore, research on resource reutilization and safe disposal of the NMFs from WEEE has a great significance from the viewpoint of environmental protection. Among the enormous variety of NMFs from WEEE, some of them are quite easy to recycle while others are difficult, such as plastics, glass and NMFs from waste printed circuit boards (WPCBs). In this paper, we mainly focus on the intractable NMFs from WEEE. Methods and technologies of recycling the two types of NMFs from WEEE, plastics, glass are reviewed in this paper. For WEEE plastics, the pyrolysis technology has the lowest energy consumption and the pyrolysis oil could be obtained, but the containing of BFRs makes the pyrolysis recycling process problematic. Supercritical fluids (SCF) and gasification technology have a potentially smaller environmental impact than pyrolysis process, but the energy consumption is higher. With regard to WEEE glass, lead removing is requisite before the reutilization of the cathode ray tube (CRT) funnel glass, and the recycling of liquid crystal display (LCD) glass is economically viable for the containing of precious metals (indium and tin). However, the environmental assessment of the recycling process is essential and important before the industrialized production stage. For example, noise and dust should be evaluated during the glass cutting process. This study could contribute significantly to understanding the recycling methods of NMFs from WEEE and serve as guidance for the future technology research and development.

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