Researchers at the University of Texas are developing a plan for an integrated recycling center for electronics products. In a nine-month project that began in July, the Austin, Texas-based university's centers for energy studies, electromagnetics, and commercialization will cooperate with private interests to characterize materials, develop collection, sorting and processing techniques, and design systems and marketing plans for waste electronic devices, including their plastic components.
Certainly, the materials we will be dealing with will be primarily plastics,'' Vincent Torres, associate director of the UT Center for Energy Studies, said in a telephone interview. We expect to develop a business plan and a pilot recycling facility to the point where we can say Here's the model.
The impetus for the project came from the Texas Energy Conservation Office, which provided the $250,000 in funding, according to Torres.
Estimates are that there are as many as 300 million cathode ray tubes out there, Torres said. Not to mention all the other electronics, from VCRs to computers, TVs and radios. The industry perceives the need to do something about them. Technical advice will come from Microelectronics and Computer Technology Corp., a for-profit consortium of electronics original equipment manufacturers based in Austin. MCC will focus on issues involved with making an integrated recycling center for electronics economically sound, and technologically possible.
Torres said other issues to be addressed in the study included cost-effective collection, remanufacturing, recovery of reusable components, recycling of metal, glass, plastic, and disposal of unrecyclable materials, as well as possible development of a standardized marking system for some plastic parts.
We know that a number of the OEMs are interested in recycling and recyclability, Torres said. Our hope is to come up with a plan that is integrated from collection to remanufacture to disposal.