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Matsushita Improves Appliance Plastics Recycling
Nov 5, 2002
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Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. said it has developed a plastic recycling method in which flame retardants can be separated from plastics used in appliances, eliminating a major obstacle limiting their reuse. Matsushita, known for its Panasonic-brand products, said it plans to commercialize the system in fiscal 2003, which begins April 1.

Plastics used in electrical appliances contain flame retardants to prevent fires. But those retardants, mostly brominated compounds, are known to generate dioxins when incinerated at low temperatures. Plastics containing such compounds are thus mostly discarded when appliances are disposed of, by being sent to landfills or incinerated at temperatures high enough not to generate dioxins.

A liquid solvent is used in the new method to remove flame retardants, Matsushita said. After plastic parts are crushed and heated, the solvent is added to melt and separate the retardants. The remaining plastic can be recycled.

Manufacturers can add additives, retardants or other substances to strengthen the plastic in accordance with the requirements of appliances, it said. The method does not change or damage the physical characteristics of the plastics, and will help boost the ratio of plastic recycling. According to Matsushita, most glass and metal materials, which account for about 60 percent of the weight of a TV set, are currently recycled. About half of the remainder is plastics that are now mostly discarded. (Kyodo News)

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