Printed circuit board recycling in Australia

Parsons, David (2007) Printed circuit board recycling in Australia. In: Achieving Business Benefits from Managing Life Cycle Impacts, 22-24 Nov 2006, Melbourne, Australia.


Electronic printed circuit boards (PCBs) are complex assemblies which embody numerous materials and which require quite large quantities of energy and other materials to manufacture. They also include significant quantities of metals such as lead, copper and nickel some of which are toxic to life and all of which are valuable resources. Large volumes of printed circuit boards are imported into Australia every year in television receivers, computers etc. and these must eventually be disposed of. Recovery of the valuable materials and their diversion from landfill where leaching of toxic materials may occur, is an expensive process because of the complexity of the product and the relatively small quantities present on each printed circuit board.

This paper uses an LCA approach to examine the value of recycling various grades of PCB. It compares various scenarios from complete landfill to recycling of most metallic components for a range of different PCBs from complex (such as in computer boards) to more simple (such as found on computer CRT monitors) and includes the shipping of PCBs overseas for processing. The study suggests that recycling is very worthwhile from the point of view of material recovery but only marginally worthwhile on other measures. It also reveals that the logistics of collection arrangements are critical and must avoid dedicated vehicle trips to deliver small quantities of end-of-life product.

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Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Commonwealth Reporting Category E) (Paper)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Engineering and Surveying - Department of Electrical, Electronic and Computer Engineering (Up to 30 Jun 2013)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Engineering and Surveying - Department of Electrical, Electronic and Computer Engineering (Up to 30 Jun 2013)
Date Deposited: 11 Oct 2007 00:45
Last Modified: 02 Jul 2013 22:38
Uncontrolled Keywords: printed circuit boards; recycling; landfill; life cycle assessment
Fields of Research (2008): 09 Engineering > 0905 Civil Engineering > 090505 Infrastructure Engineering and Asset Management
09 Engineering > 0907 Environmental Engineering > 090703 Environmental Technologies
05 Environmental Sciences > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050299 Environmental Science and Management not elsewhere classified
Fields of Research (2020): 40 ENGINEERING > 4005 Civil engineering > 400508 Infrastructure engineering and asset management
40 ENGINEERING > 4011 Environmental engineering > 401102 Environmentally sustainable engineering
41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4104 Environmental management > 410499 Environmental management not elsewhere classified
Socio-Economic Objectives (2008): B Economic Development > 89 Information and Communication Services > 8998 Environmentally Sustainable Information and Communication Services > 899802 Management of Solid Waste from Information and Communication Services

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