The transition from classic TV sets to flatscreen TVs has resulted in new challenges. Flatscreens differ strongly in construction and material use. And they can contain dangerous substances such as mercury. In order to recover as many materials as possible from old flatscreen TVs, new and safe recycling techniques and routes are needed. The research project PRIME is looking into this.

The way flatscreen TVs are recycled today is not only less than optimal in terms of material recovery; it also holds risks for the environment and health. For this reason, the research project ‘Perfecting Research on Intelligent Material Exploitation’ or PRIME is examining scenarios for recycling flatscreen TVs. The focus here is on efficiency and maximum recuperation of scarce and environmentally harmful materials.

More efficient recycling

Dirk Nelen of VITO: “For the PRIME project, VITO and KU Leuven made an overview of the best available recycling techniques and assessed the environmental impact of flatscreen TV recycling. We experimented with recycling back covers and created an index for assessing the strategic benefits of the recycling process. The required data was provided by Philips (at present TP Vision), producer of flatscreen TVs, recycling facilities of Van Gansewinkel (waste services and supplier of sustainable materials and energy) and Umicore, glue and coating specialist Nitto Denko, and the consultancy firm Beco. A cross-fertilisation took place between the partners and a wealth of information was exchanged on the efficiency of the present recycling processes.”

Total vision

The PRIME project not only gave the impetus for a sustainable flatscreen design; it also generated improved business models and material strategies for the sector. Dirk Nelen: “By better harmonising the business models of the different links to one another, the efficiency and effectiveness of recycling processes is improved.” The PRIME project received support from the Environment and Energy Technology Innovation Platform (MIP) and will conclude in 2013.