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Brazilian Recycling Plant Uses RFID to Facilitate Reverse Logistics

When discarded computers and printers arrive at its facility, Sinctronics uses RFID readers to identify their component materials so they can be more quickly recycled and incorporated into new IT products.
By Edson Perin
May 14, 2015

Radio frequency identification is part of the set of cutting-edge technologies and innovations adopted by Sinctronics, which calls itself a Green IT Innovation Center. Located in Sorocaba, a city in the Brazilian state of São Paulo, Sinctronics operates what it says is Brazil's first integrated ecosystem for electronic products, processing 100 tons of discarded equipment per month, and generating raw material for the manufacture of new products, thereby reducing the extraction of natural resources, saving energy and reducing carbon emissions.

"This is the world's first plant for recycling discarded electronic products that was built next to a new manufacturing plant, which is fully prepared to receive the materials and parts produced by the recycling plant," says Carlos Ohde, the general manager of Sinctronics, whose facilities are located just a few hundred meters away from a plant operated by Flextronics, which manufactures printers for HP Brasil. "It is the only one in the world with these characteristics, as far as we know."

Sinctronics' recycling center separates computers and printers into their various components, and reprocesses and distributes the extracted materials for incorporation into new IT products.
When a discarded printer, for example, arrives at Sinctronics, the first step is to identify the machine's make and model in order to determine the materials from which it is made. This initial step can be accomplished via RFID—assuming the printer has been tagged—or manually, which requires more time and increases recycling costs.

"At the time of identification of waste products, the use of RFID by the manufacturer is a great facilitator," explains Mileide Alves Cubo, Sinctronics' production manager, making it "possible to determine, without testing, the types of plastic, metals and other materials for recycling. The HP printers, all made with RFID tags, allow us to more easily identify their materials, as they are registered on our systems."

Trucks filled with discarded electronic products arrive at Sinctronics' receiving docks. As workers unload the vehicles, they use RFID interrogators, whenever possible, to automatically identify those goods and store them along with their peers, in order to facilitate the subsequent disassembly and separation of their components. Those without RFID tags, on the other hand, will need to be manually identified.

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