The Waste & Resources Action Programme is pioneering a technique to recover mercury from LCD flat panel display shred, which can potentially be used for bulk scale commercial recycling.
WRAP, currently inviting companies to tender to demonstrate the process that separates high-quality materials from size reduced LCD displays until 1 February, 2010, say in their tender document: Assessment of the concentration and final location of the mercury has proved problematic. Its crucial to ensure the end fate of the mercury compounds can be properly monitored.
There has been a huge increase in consumer use of flat panel displays, not least supplemented by the switchover to digital televisions. In a previous tender document - published at the beginning of last year - WRAP estimated that: within five years the arisings of waste electrical and electronic equipment from FPDs will reach a critical level and 75% of these are expected to be liquid crystal displays containing toxic substances.
Currently, flat panel displays are dismantled manually and require varied recycling solutions because the technologies use different chemicals and compounds. These include going into the display recycling stream or the mixed WEEE stream where they are shredded.
Repic chief executive Phil Morton explained that the emerging problem of LCD flat panel displays is relatively new. He said: There isnt yet anywhere in the world with an automated facility. Although the issue will be short lived because of the development of new LED televisions that do not contain mercury, it is still currently an issue.
WRAPs technique is still a work in progress but if successful it could offer significant progress in response to flat panel display WEEE.