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Economics of materials in mobile phone preprocessing, focus on non-printed circuit board materials

Liu, Weitong, Ford, Patrick, Uvegi, Hugo, Margarido, Fernanda, Santos, Eduardo, Ferrão, Paulo, Olivetti, Elsa
Waste management 2019 v.87 pp. 78-85
case studies, electronic equipment, financial economics, metals, mobile telephones, plastics, recycling, shredding, Portugal
Incomplete recovery of materials in mobile phones results in a significant economic loss. Many studies have focused on improving the situation by characterizing metals within printed circuit boards (PCBs) to identify where losses occur. Our work focuses on the evolving composition of mobile phones and particularly the flow of materials located within components outside of PCBs. In this study we quantify the appreciable economic potential of non-PCB derived metals and provide suggestions for optimization of different preprocessing steps to recover these materials. These opportunities can be categorized as recovering both high value and high volume materials. We therefore recommend that preprocessors pay special attention to precious metals in fine shredding and develop strategies for plastics recycling based on our demand and supply forecasts of postconsumer plastics in phones. We have performed this work based on a case study of Portugal.