Project - ReLCD - Liquid Crystal Display Re-Use and Recycling
Liquid Crystal Displays (LCDs) are widely used in notebooks, organizers, mobile phones, pocket calculators, measuring and control instruments, electronic games, hand-held miniature TVs, audio-video equipment, large signboards, automotive displays and more and more also for PC monitors and TVs.
According to a study from Stanford Resources (San Jose, California) the annual value of LCD-products reached 35 billion EUR in 2002, about 30% of this within the European Union, representing a total area of 2,1 million m2 Liquid Crystal Displays. An annual increase rate of about 15% is estimated for the next years (up to 4,1 million m2 in 2005).
As LCDs are already on the market for several years, larger quantities of the more than 2,5 billion LCDs are coming into their End-of-Life stage for treatment. In 2005 this figure will become even more dramatic - 40.000 tons of LCD-modules contained in 2 million tons of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) or about 30% of total WEEE within EU. An amount which is representing 400 million EUR costs for incineration.
Currently the only method used to deal with redundant LCD units is incineration or landfill. Both are expensive and causes emissions into the atmosphere (global warming) respectively water contamination (Class II) and difficulties in biodegradation. Up to now there is no recycling solution for LC-Displays available.
As a consequence European Commission requests the disassembly of LCDs with an area bigger than 100 cm2 in the Directive 2002/96/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE Directive) of February 13, 2003.
ReLCD will therefore develop novel processes for the disassembly, treatment and re-utilisation of LCDs as well as possibilities for the in-situ recovery of the 10-15% LCD production scrap which do not pass the final test before shipment.
ReLCD went in several areas beyond the unsatisfactory state-of-the-art.
The objectives were:
- To find a cheap and fast test methodology to verify if the obsolete or excess LCDs are still working,
- To develop a technology to refurbish the working LCDs and re-integrate them into repair and in exemptions also in production processes,
- To find a test method to detect hazardous substances in LC-mixtures,
- To develop an eco-efficient disassembly and recycling technology for the non-working LCDs that fulfils the WEEE-Directive of the European Commission,
- To research possible enhancements to the existing LCD design and production in order to come to a more sustainable life-cycle of LCDs (publication of guidelines),
- Building up a pilot plant incorporating and testing the developed technologies.
By all these measures decrease the amount going to landfill or incineration as well as decrease the threats to the environment and mankind of today’s state-of-the-art technology.
ReLCD included 3 industrial SMEs and 3 RTD organisations from 5 countries (AT, DE, HU, ES, UK). All of its members are deeply involved either in eco-efficient electr(on)ics or electr(on)ics recycling and are therefore capable to exploit the results.
In addition technology dissemination will be done by users incl. producers of LCDs, producers of electronic and other products containing LCDs (incl. SMEs), companies active in repair (mainly SMEs), recycling and waste management companies.
Ecotronics Eco-efficient Electronics and Services GmbH (AT)
Acitve Active Disassembly Research Ltd (UK), RelektrA GmbH (DE), Austrian Society for Systems Engineering and Automation (AT), Fundacion Gaiker (ES), Bay Zoltan Foundation for Applied Research (HU).