Mercury is considered by the World Health Organization as a top chemical that is of major public health concern, and traditional methods of recycling screens can expose workers in the recycling industry to toxic materials, such as mercury and lead.
Paudy O’Brien, CEO and founder of FPD Recycling, which has U.S. offices in Lakewood, Colorado, says he recognized the dangers of recycling electronics that contained cathode ray tubes (CRT) or cold cathode fluorescent lamps (CCFL), which contain mercury. He adds that many electronics recycling conferences address the risks when working with materials containing CRT.
“At nearly every conference, someone is talking about issues with CRT,” O’Brien says. “Look at the problems that CRT caused and has been causing. We saw the same problems with CCFL with mercury. It seemed like an obvious problem that needed a solution.”
So, O’Brien’s company worked to develop a solution to help electronics recyclers reduce their exposure to mercury and hazardous chemicals as well as improve efficiency with operations with a new tool. Several partners have helped FPD Recycling in the development and financing of the technology, including O’Brien, who has 15 years of experience in the energy sector and information technology; Craig Thompson, who helped with the U.K.’s first franchised collection network for WEEE (waste electrical and electronic equipment) recycling; Arthur Middleton, who is a chartered engineer with more than 30 years’ experience in factory automation and machine design; Austin Ryan, who is co-founder of Ireland-based AMCs; Gary Moloney, who has 15 years of experience in software engineering; and Declan Lynch, who is a chartered accountant with 20 years of experience.
In September, FPD Recycling debuted the FPD Pro robotic depollution machine during the E-Scrap Conference in Orlando, Florida. O’Brien says the FPD Pro depollutes TVs, monitors and laptops by removing all hazardous materials from them, which allows the processed waste, which can be viewed as hazardous, to be treated as any normal electronic waste since the robot removes the hazards.
“Safety is key,” he says. “[FPD Pro] eliminates exposing workers to hazard.”
When developing the FPD Pro earlier this year, FPD Recycling partnered with a mercury-handling electronics recycler in Australia to test the technology.
O’Brien adds that electronics recyclers have the ability to lease the FPD Pro robot. He says most prospective customers are planning to use either five- or 10-year leases on the robot.
“This can be installed at a low capital rate for recyclers,” he says, adding that by leasing, FPD Recycling takes care of the machine’s maintenance. “They can increase revenues by having low capital deployment. They don’t have any hidden costs; it’s transparent and gives the recycler what they need to recycle this type of hazardous waste.”
The FPD Pro can be used on screens that range in size from 11 inches to 70 inches. O’Brien says recyclers can use it on just about any brand, including Dell, Toshiba, Apple, Samsung and Panasonic. He adds that FPD Pro users can choose whether to disassemble or shred the electronics after they use the robot to depollute it. “Depending on the recycler, they get to choose what to do next.”
The FPD Pro is available to market across the world. O’Brien adds that it offers recyclers a safe tool that helps to reduce labor.