Researchers at a Canadian university have pioneered a technique to give new life to the parts of cellphones that typically end up in landfill.
In separating fibreglass and resin, the team from the University of British Columbia (UBC) can create a new raw material that transforms the e-waste into a useful resource.
“The key here is gravity separation, which efficiently separates the fibreglass from the resin by using the differences in their densities. The separated fibreglass can then be used as a raw material for construction and insulation. In the future, if we can find a way to improve the quality of the recycled fibreglass, it may even be suitable for manufacturing new circuit boards,” said Amit Kumar, PhD student.
And this will help keep them from going to landfill, where they can release hazardous chemicals into the environment.
The next step for the team will see them work with recycling firm, Ronin8, to build a ‘large-scale commercial model of the process’.
Finding new uses for parts of unwanted electronic devices is an important element in tackling e-waste. With the organisers of the 2020 Japan Olympics showing the way by recycling them into gold, silver and bronze medals.