IBM Research Yields New Way to Recycle PC E-Waste

Chemical reaction produces a new and better plastic from old CDs, LED screens, smartphones, etc.

The Digital Age has produced an extensive e-waste problem, and IBM believes it has discovered a new process to help deal with it. Researchers from IBM’s Almaden research lab in San Jose, Calif., have discovered a one-step chemical process that recycles polycarbonate into plastics safe for water purification, fiber optics, and medical equipment. IBM Researchers added a fluoride reactant, a base (similar to baking powder), and heat to old CDs to produce a new plastic with temperature and chemical resistance reportedly superior to the original PC. (See the original report here.)

“Polycarbonates are common plastics in our society, especially in consumer electronics in the form of LED screens, smartphones and Blu-rays, as well as everyday eyeglass lenses, kitchen utensils, and household storage gear,” notes Gavin Jones, research staff member at IBM Research-Almaden (photo). “We now have a new way of recycling to improve how this prominent substance impacts the world’s health and environment.”

“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,” notes Jeanette Garcia, another staff member at IBM Research-Almaden (photo).

Related Content

First Thermoplastic Composite Gearbox Housing: 30% Lighter Than Aluminum

ARRK’s lightweight injection molded construction is made with layer-optimized organic sheeting.