-- study of waste management and waste legisation
-- study of recycling processes and management
-- study of materials and substances within PC
-- research on visual values of components

Main part of the research was dealing with the existing recycling mechanisms. First step of recycling is reuse, old computer equipment is in many places being sold or given to the institutions who have lower requirements. People are also motivated to upgrade rather than replace computers. In this direction HP sponsored training of college students in USA. Recycling itself is far the most developed, executed and determined by legislation in within European community, although most of the electronic waste is burnt in order to acquire small amounts of precious metals such as gold, silver, copper and others.

Commission of the European Communities recently published a proposal for a directive of the European Parliament on waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) and a directive on a restriction of the use of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment. The proposal for WEEE is very strict and recyclers are currently trying to achieve a compromise. It turned out that a good platform of regulations is of crucial importance.

Electronic waste contains a high amount of toxic substances, which are highly dangerous for our environment if they are not adequately disposed. Landfilling must be highly supervised to prevent leakage, especially because some substances, for example led, carry a great risk of polluting resources of drinking water. Besides that all of the five most dangerous substances used in the design of electronic devices (
lead, mercury, cadmium, chromium and BFR) tend to accumulate in animals and humans. That means there is a risk of slow poisoning if being exposed to small amounts over a long period of time, or poisoning through the food chain. Landfilling is not a very good solution not only for these reasons, but also because the physically enormous amount of electronic waste. Besides that, there is a number of precious substances that can be obtained with the recycling.

Although the recycle processes are becoming very advanced, the electronic scrap, especially small devices and computer equipment bring a lot of problems. They contain a lot of different substances, which can’t be separated. In general this is the main problem. Dismounting requires manual labor, which makes the process very expensive. From computer equipment currently in the Netherlands only CRTs are disassembled. All the rest, computers, keyboards, printers, fax machines and others are being shredded. Bigger aluminum, copper containing and iron parts are separated, the rest is incinerated. With incineration process precious metals that is mainly incorporated in motherboards and other printed boards is separated. The plastic burns to add some caloric value. The problem of incineration is that it spreads the toxic substances into atmosphere. The scientists are currently focusing on the toxic effect of BFRs (Brominated Flame Retardants) on the environment. The new proposal for European law on WEEE (waste electronic and electric equipment) is tending to force the recyclers so separate waste on a higher level and regulate the incineration.
> current lifetime of PC is 3-5 years and schrinking
> in 1999 there was 387million PCs in the world, 93 million in Europe alone

> by the year 2005 USA will have 198 million obsolite computers. With most of it being recycled that will still sum up to 22 million cubic meters of ladfilled waste

> in the area of northern California there is 6000 computers disposed PER DAY.

> the mechanism of recycling plasma screens is not yet developed
LEAD | Consumer electronics constitute 40% of lead found in landfills. The main concern in regard to the presence of lead in landfills is the potential for the lead to leach and contaminate drinking water supplies.
CADMIUM | and cadmium compounds accumulate in the human body, in particular in the kidneys. Due to its long half-life (30 years), cadmium can easily be accumulated in amounts that cause symptoms of poisoning.
MERCURY | Inorganic mercury spread in the water is transformed to methylated mercury in the bottom sediments. Methylated mercury is easily accumulated in living organisms, has chronic effects and causes damage to the brain.
CHROMIUM IV | can easily pass through cell membranes and produces various toxic effects within the cells. It causes severe allergic reactions and is considered genotoxic, potentially damaging the DNA. During incineration of chromium VI contaminated wastes the metal evaporates through fly ash. Scientists agree that wastes containing chromium should not be incinerated.
BROMINATED FLAME RETARDANTS | are designed into electronic products as a means of ensuring flammability protection. The use is mainly in printed circuit boards, as connectors, plastic covers and cables.One of the main impediments to the recycling of this fraction is the risk of dioxin and furan generation during the recycling of the respective plastic.