Fujitsu has announced what it says is the first recycling system that collects used CDs and DVDs and reuses the plastic in the bodies of notebook PCs. The recycled plastic is already being used for part of the front panel of its Lifebook P772/E notebook. Fujitsu has the recycling centres already in place, while Fujitsu Labs provided the expertise to turn the CDs and DVDs into new components.
Generally it’s difficult to reuse recovered plastic because of the need for a uniform mixture with the desired properties. Add to that potential contaminants and the need to comply with the European Restriction on Hazardous Substances Directive (RoHS) and REACH regulations on chemical substances.
Fujitsu’s answer was to use CDs and DVDs which are made from polycarbonate and can be used in the bodies of notebook PCs. Also, they don’t include any contaminants, such as flame retardants, so were deemed suitable for recycling. In addition, the company employs Fujitsu Laboratories risk management database of the chemical substances included in plastic materials to verify whether or not the collected CD and DVD fragments contain harmful substances.
The system is expected to reduce the amount of newly produced plastic by 10 tons per year while cutting CO2 emissions by around 15%. In the future Fujitsu plans to expand the process to support a wider variety of recycled materials in addition to CDs and DVDs and to employ these plastics in other products.
Review: Fujitsu should be congratulated for putting the effort into coming up with a process that enables plastic to be reused in this way. Someone has to make the investment from which, no doubt, other manufacturers will ultimately benefit.
But perhaps the real message here is about the ability to effectively recycle products. Fujitsu points out that as part of its quality control process the company has long followed the practices of designing products to be easily disassembled and labelling the types of plastic used to enable easy identification. If all manufacturers did the same then the process of reusing materials would become significantly easier and cheaper.