The amounts of e-waste, consisting of metal (e-metals) and plastic (e-plastics) streams from electronic goods, are increasing in the United States and elsewhere. The e-metals waste streams are being recycled to a reasonable degree due to the value of precious metals. E-plastic waste streams currently are not recycled or reused to a significant extent. As a result, most e-plastics are disposed of by landfilling or thermal treatment, or sent overseas for alleged recycling or reuse, any of which could result in unsafe worker exposure and release into the environment. Two of the major barriers to e-plastics’ reuse or recycling are the mixed plastic content and the presence in the e-plastics of flame retardants (FR), of which two classes in particular, the brominated flame retardants (BFR) and organo-phosphorus flame retardants (OPFR), have associated health concerns. The major goal of this project is to investigate the possibility of direct reuse of e-plastics in compression molding. Preliminary data generated have identified a molding procedure that yields remanufactured e-plastics having a tensile strength of 29.3 MPa. This moderate strength level is suspected to be due to inclusions of plastic bits that did not melt and internal voids from out-gassing. Handheld X-ray fluorescence (XRF) was utilized to characterize elemental components in the e-plastics tested for compression molding. Several high “hits” for Br were found that could not be predicted visually. The preliminary XRF data for BFR and OPFR in this work are helpful for environmental and occupational hazard assessments of compression molding activities. Additionally, methods are suggested to characterize the metals, BFR, and OPFR content of the e-plastics using several different additional laboratory analytical techniques to determine the suitability for cost-effective and easy-to-use technologies.
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