Flat panel displays (FPDs) are becoming increasingly prevalent in our daily lives, from computer monitors to televisions and smartphones. However, with this growing popularity comes a corresponding increase in electronic waste (e-waste) from discarded FPDs.
According to The Global Transboundary E-waste Flows Monitor 2022, more than 47 million tons of Electrical and Electronic Waste (WEEE) are treated in an unknown, non-environmentally sound way every year (2019), out of a total of more than 56 Million tons.
In Europe alone, 399 Kt of flat panel display televisions and 147 Kt of flat panel display monitors were generated in 2020, according to estimated data in “Wasted LCDs as a source of value for e-waste treatment centers: A technoeconomic analysis” by Idiano D’Adamo, Francesco Ferella, and Paolo Rosa.
This number is only set to grow in the coming years, with television and monitor waste in Italy increasing from 59.8 Kt in 2019 to 76.1 Kt in 2021 according to CDC RAEE.
The problem is further exacerbated by the fact that Cathode Ray Tube devices are being replaced by lighter LCD and LED devices. According to the SWICO technical report 2021, Switzerland registered a growth of +38% in FPD Television waste and +6% in FPD Monitor waste from 2019 to 2020.
The lack of efficient and cost-effective methods for dismantling and recycling FPDs is a major challenge in dealing with e-waste. These devices are complex and contain valuable materials such as metals, glass, and plastic, but recovering these materials can be difficult and time-consuming, making the process of recycling FPDs not always economically viable. Moreover, unsound treatment of FPDs can lead to pollution, loss of billions of dollars of reusable material, illegal shipment, and child labor.
Empowering recycling plants with new technology, such as robotics, computer vision, and artificial intelligence, can help solve these challenges and make the FPD treatment process more profitable, allowing for higher waste streams to be processed.
By harnessing the power of industrial robots and computer vision, e-waste can be transformed from a burden on the environment into an opportunity for a better future for our planet and its inhabitants.