Fujitsu has developed a recycling system that collects used CDs and DVDs at Fujitsu Group recycling centers and reuses the plastic in the bodies of notebook PCs.
To avoid the risk of contaminants being mixed into the recycled plastic, the new recycling system performs quality control based on a chemical substances risk management database developed by Fujitsu Laboratories, thereby ensuring that notebook PCs and other ICT devices comply with legal requirements for chemical components. Compared to conventional notebook PC manufacturing processes, this system is expected to reduce the amount of newly produced plastic used by 10 tons per year while cutting CO2 emissions by approximately 15%.
At the company's five recycling centers across Japan, Fujitsu collects, disassembles, sorts, and recycles personal computers and other products. However, reusing the recovered plastic in new computer units had posed a number of challenges. Firstly, when different types of plastic are involved, a uniform mixture is impossible to achieve even by melting the plastic with heat. As a result, it is necessary to collect only a single type of plastic to ensure the desired material properties. Even so, in a given plastic, there may be differences in ingredients, visual defects, or impurities that make it difficult to achieve the same molding characteristics, colors, strength and other properties as conventional plastics. Furthermore, compliance with the RoHS directive and REACH regulations regarding the safety of chemicals in ICT products has made it challenging to control the quality of recycled plastics, and until now it has been impossible to reuse recovered plastic in a computer bodies.
With this in mind, Fujitsu turned its attention to CDs and DVDs, which are often included with PCs and are available in predictable quantities. These optical discs are made from polycarbonate, a type of plastic suitable for use in the bodies of notebook PCs. Moreover, they do not include any contaminants, such as flame retardants, so they were deemed to be a suitable material for recycling.
As part of its quality control process, Fujitsu has long followed the practices of designing products to be easily disassembled and labeling the types of plastic used in its products to enable easy identification. 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 company also checks to ensure safety and to confirm that the optical discs have the material properties required for use in Fujitsu's notebook PCs.
Through collaboration with plastic washing and processing company PANAC Industries, Inc. and Idemitsu Kosan Co., Ltd., a manufacturer of resin compounds, Fujitsu has been able to improve the quality and manage the safety of its recycled plastics.
Going forward, Fujitsu plans to expand the use of this system to support a wider variety of recycled materials in addition to CDs and DVDs and to employ these plastics in other products. Fujitsu will strive to reduce its environmental footprint and resource consumption.