Recycling of plastic waste from electrical and electronic equipment (EEE), containing brominated flame retardants (BFR) remains difficult due to the increasingly stringent regulations on their handling and recovery. This report deals with photodegradation in a low-pressure reactor applying UV-visible light on Decabromodiphenyl ether (DBDE or BDE-209) randomly dispersed in commercially available Poly(acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene) (ABS) and  Poly(carbonate) (PC). The aim of this study is to investigate the possibility of decomposing a BFR in plastic waste from EEE while maintaining the specifications of the polymeric materials in order to allow for their recycling.
The photodegradation of the extracted BFR was monitored using infrared spectroscopy and gas chromatography coupled with mass spectroscopy. DBDE underwent rapid photodegradation during the first minutes of exposure to UV-visible light and reached degradation yields superior to 90% after 15 min of irradiation. The evaluation of polymer properties (ABS and PC) after irradiation revealed superficial crosslinking effects, which were slightly accelerated in the presence of DBDE. However, the use of a low-pressure reactor avoids large photooxidation and allowed to maintain the thermal and structural properties of the virgin polymers.

Online Publication