Waste coming from disposed electric and electronic equipment (also called "e-waste") contains a growing range of electronic appliances of different types and sizes. Computers, televisions and other electronic scrap contain valuable materials and components, which may be recyclable and reusable. One of the main problems in recycling of electronic waste is the lack of collection incentives and recycling infrastructure, as well as the high cost of material collection, handling and processing. The success of the recycling solution as an alternative to the disposal of electric and electronic waste, in order to become economically feasible, lies mainly on the way they are able to be disassembled and reused.
There are several approaches in order to maximize the recycling rate, for example, optimization of the disassembly sequence of each component, using available geometric data and computing the best trajectory for extraction. Other suggested methods determine automatic sequences of disassembly using graphic simulation and optimization algorithms, but they focus on the simulation of the product or component, not on the processes related to handling, separation and cutting.
As an alternative and improved solution, we propose a new method to optimize the recycling of electronic appliances, TV sets and monitors mainly, applying criteria related to technical, economic, legal and environmental parameters. The method is mainly focused on industrial solutions (both manual and automated operations), using off-the-shelf devices and taking advantage of the previous expertise of industrial recycling companies. The method makes use of a decision system with three kinds of inputs: technical data, economic information and legal rules regarding the recycling process. As a result, the method offers a proposal for a specific configuration of the recycling line. The feasibility of the proposed solution is assessed by means of simulation techniques and economic and technical analysis. The method proposes a specific level of automation for the recycling process, in order to achieve the optimal benefit for the recycler and to comply with the legislation regarding the minimum quantities of materials to be obtained. In this way, the degree of separation of each material is derived from the output of the optimization process, and these values suggest the proposed level of automation to be applied to each separation phase.
Two recycling companies have benefited from this solution since the method has been used in the definition and implementation of two recycling lines: one for TV sets and monitors and a second one for electronic components of printed circuit boards. In addition, a potential final user of the obtained glass of the TV sets and monitors has been identified (manufacturer of glazed tiles).