Recycling e-waste is already great. It enables the reuse of rare earth elements and precious metals like gold and silver, that are contained in electronics. But what if it could also help save lives?
Recycling cellphones into medical equipment
IBM research scientists just made a discovery that could help with the e-waste problem. Indeed, they found a way to convert toxic old smartphones into a nontoxic plastic that is strong enough for medical use.
Every year, the world generates over 2.7 million tons of plastic, also known as polycarbonates. Polycarbonates are in many common items such as electronics, CDs and baby bottles.
The problem with those plastics is that after a while, they decompose and release BPA, which is a chemical that is dangerous for the human brain. So it was necessary to find a viable solution for the recycling of polycarbonates.
How IBM does it
IBM researchers discovered that by adding a fluoride reactant, a base similar to baking powder and heat, they are able to produce a new kind of plastic. This new plastic is even tougher than polycarbonate in terms of temperature and chemical resistance.
The researchers used a combination of predictive modeling and experimental lab work to discover the new one-step recycling approach, IBM said.
What will it be used for?
It’s safe enough for use in water purification and medical equipment, IBM says. Fiber optics is another potential application.
Meanwhile, it’s also strong enough to resist the decomposition process that causes BPA leaching.
“While preventing these plastics from entering landfills, we simultaneously recycle the substance into a new type of plastic — safe and strong enough for purifying our water and producing medical equipment,” said Jeanette Garcia, PhD, research staff member, IBM Research. “It’s an environmental win on many fronts.”
Even if you didn’t one more reason to recycle your old electronics, this is one is pretty great. Help save the environment and human lives by recycling your e-waste!
At ICT, transparency is key. Every technological device is processed by R2 certified staff in the ICT facility in the Boston area. ICT knows how important trust is and values its relationships with its customers. ICT cares about preserving our planet and helps companies all over the country to recycle E-Waste and protect their data.
Author Bio: Audrey Adam is the marketing manager at ICT. She has a background in journalism and blog writing.