Recycling the PC

Fujitsu and UMG ABS have developed a new recycling system that enables ABS resin from recycled computer housings to be reused in new notebook computer housings.

Fujitsu has announced that, together with Fujitsu Kasei, Fujitsu Laboratories and the plastic materials producer UMG ABS, it has developed a new recycling process that enables the ABS resin used in computer housings to be recycled and reused in new notebook computer housings.

Under a Japanese law designed to promote the effective utilisation of resources, personal computers that are disposed by businesses must be recovered by the manufacturer so that the materials can be recovered and recycled.

Fujitsu’s own recycling program was launched in 1997, when the company set up five recycling centres around Japan where old computers could be collected, disassembled, the parts sorted by material, and then recycled.

But until now, the use of recycled plastics has been hindered by irregularity in the quality of the source materials. Variations in types of materials, external stains and impurities made it difficult for recycled plastics to achieve the same quality as virgin plastics in terms of colour, mouldability and strength.

For that reason, the use of recycled personal computer plastics in the housings of new personal computers has not been practical. Instead, the recovered plastics have been reused in equipment for other industries or household goods, or for thermal recycling, where the discarded plastic is burned as fuel.

In the new Fujitsu process, the plastics recovered by Fujitsu, as well as recycled materials sourced by UMG ABS, are blended with some virgin material, and by fine-tuning the mixture, Fujitsu achieves the same level of performance as with all-virgin plastic.

Fujitsu itself is using the recycled material in its FMV-BIBLO LOOX/S notebook PC models.

The new recycled plastic will be on display at the Eco-Products 2002 expo at Tokyo Big Sight between December 5-7.