1 Department of Manufacturing Engineering, Technical University of Denmark2 Department of Planning, Technical University of Denmark3 Department of Management Engineering, Technical University of Denmark4 Department of Civil Engineering, Technical University of Denmark
This Ph.D. thesis deals with the growingly important field of electronics recycling with special attention to the problem of printed circuit board recycling. A literature survey of contemporary electronics recycling and printed circuit board recycling is presented.Further, an analysis of the role of recycling in the modern quest for a sustainable global society is performed, clearly showing that without intensified focus on recycling, the global community cannot hope to reach even the most modest goals for sustainability in resource use. A general method for finding new recycling alternatives in the metals producing industry is presented and tested on two printed circuit board scrap cases. The underlying idea for the method is that complex scrap should be introduced in the matrix of man-made material flows at recipient points where the scrap constitutes the least environmental problem and where resource recovery is largest. It is clearly shown with the two printed circuit board scrap cases that the currently used copper recycling scenario is environmentally inferior to the tin and lead primary production scenarios. The method is a novelty, since no-one has previously put forward a method for the identification of environmentally superior recycling alternatives, which may be used on all kinds of modern scrap, and which can also handle more complex scrap types.The results of the present dissertation can be utilised by e.g. EPAs wishing to advocate environmentally superior recycling alternatives, or by e.g. recycling enterprises wishing to obtain the environmentally best solutions for new recycling systems.