Mercury Free' logo to help in FPD segregation

A new voluntary marking system for producers of flat screen TV’s and monitors has been introduced in order to encourage better segregation of units containing hazardous cold cathode fluorescent (CCFL) tubes.

Produced by Digital Europe, a leading voice of the European digital technology industry, and supported by funds from Waste & Resources Action Plan (WRAP), the scheme involves two logos that may be attached to a unit to indicate whether it contains mercury or is mercury free. The logos use the letters ‘Hg’- mercury’s chemical symbol in the periodic table.

Flat screens, also known as Flat Panel Display (FPD), are a growing waste stream. Although the hazardous CCFL lamps used in many units are slowly being phased out in favour of newer, non-hazardous light-emitting diodes, WRAP still estimates that around 120,000 tonnes of CCFL containing units will be disposed of in the UK in 2016.

The aim of the new logos is to make it easier for recycling operators to segregate the hazardous and non-hazardous FPDs, reducing the costs and risks involved with such a potentially difficult waste stream and allowing for more efficient processing.

Lucy Cooper, project manager for products and materials at WRAP, said:

“Separating screens containing mercury will allow for easier extraction of valuable elements in mercury-free screens, and it may also reduce treatment costs as only those screens containing CCFL backlights will need to be transported and treated as hazardous.”

The Recycling Lives Flat Panel Display recycling department is the first of its kind in the UK. Developed under the guidance of industry experts and opened in 2011, with approval from the Environment Agency, the department uses a manual process to ensure the toxic mercury vapours are safely contained. Inner panels- containing the mercury- are dismantled in a specially-designed sealed clean room, with staff protected by fully sealed bodysuits. The air in the room is replaced and filtered every sixty seconds, with all mercury treated and stored for separate recycling.

David Allen, Strategic Development Manager for Recycling Lives, said:

“The introduction of the ‘mercury free logo’ will enable mercury bearing LCD display units to be easily identified over their plasma and LED counterparts. This identification process will significantly speed up the recycling process allowing for more streamlined batch processing by backlight technology.”