Resource Use

‘World’s first’ mechanical recycling plant for LCDs


A UK company has been granted an environment permit to operate the ‘world’s first’ recycling plant to mechanically process end-of-life liquid-crystal display (LCD) screens.

Electrical Waste Recycling Company (EWRC) announced that it had gained an environmental permit from the Environment Agency (EA) on Wednesday (4 December), allowing it to mechanically recycle flat screen devices (such as televisions and monitors) at its five-acre waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) processing site in Huddersfield.

The company – which sources old screens from local authorities, manufacturers and waste management companies – has reportedly been working to make the recycling process of end-of-life LCDs more efficient.

LCD screens have historically proved difficult to process, as many contain mercury – a hazardous waste (though screen are rarely labeled appropriately) – and have different design configurations, which often make automated disassembly impractical.

However, EWRC has said it has developed new automated technology (for which a patent is pending), which can not only overcome these obstacles, but also reduce the processing time from 15 minutes per display (when done manually) to six seconds.

Extracted materials can then be sold onto UK reprocessors.

The company says it believes the technology will help deliver a solution to the ‘mounting volumes of flat panel displays being stockpiled in warehouses’ awaiting a commercial outlet.

‘Huge performance advantages’

Speaking of the permit, Keith Patterson, Group Managing Director at EWRC, said: “We have carried out substantial trials and considering the huge performance advantages this new and unique process offers to the market we are confident that the volume our partners will deliver will warrant the significant investment. With one million units of waste flat panel display equipment entering the market per month it was an obvious route for the company.”

The plant’s WEEE operation has been used over the past two years by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Environment Agency for training, and has gained Best Available Treatment Recycling and Recovery Technique (BATRRT) approval as well as various other environmental accreditations.

Read more about the EWRC or find out more about the problems with recycling LCDs.