Plastics play an integral role in most CE devices. They are used in cases, covers, internal structural and mechanical parts and in multiple other applications. In some CE product portfolios, plastic can constitute 25 percent of the materials contained in devices. Virgin plastics and resins are derived from petroleum and natural gas — requiring the extraction of those natural resources and generating CO2 emissions in the process. Reducing the use of virgin material, and increasing the use of recycled plastic (from both postconsumer and postindustrial sources) represents a big opportunity to enhance eco-efficiency. CE companies are implementing an array of strategies to rapidly expand the use of recycled material. Companies like Samsung Electronics — which in one year more than quadrupled the percentage of recycled plastics in its products — are achieving meaningful results.
As the industry continues to increase its use of recycled plastics, a gating item is the need to ensure that recycled materials deliver the strength, durability and other performance characteristics required in sophisticated electronics devices. For Sony, the work of their engineers to develop SoRPlas (Sony Recycled Plastic) is expanding the possibilities of recycled material — and bringing the company closer to its goal of a zero environmental footprint.
SoRPlas has proven to be a viable alternative to virgin polycarbonate plastic. In this innovative manufacturing process, plastic scrap from leftover optical discs, transparent sheets and used water bottles is crushed, washed and converted to SoRPlas. Traditional recycled plastics contain about 30 percent recycled material. Setting the bar higher, in SoRPlas the recycled content can be as high as 99 percent — and the one percent remainder includes Sony's original flame retardant that provides superior flame resistance while eliminating the need for brominated flame retardants (BFRs). This breakthrough material can be found today in Sony's digital still cameras and other Sony products.
The HP Deskjet 3050A e-All-in-One contains 25 percent postconsumer recycled plastic. HP is also reducing the amount of material reaching the waste stream through a “closed-loop” recycling process in which original HP ink and LaserJet toner cartridges are reduced to raw materials that can then be used to make new cartridges as well as other metal and plastic products. In just two years, HP shipped 600 million inkjet cartridges containing recycled plastic derived from this process.