The move from optical media to digital distribution may be a blessing for the environment, but does leave one small problem: when everybody has made the move to Steam, Origin, Netflix et al, what happens to all the discs that already exist? Fujitsu has a suggestion: make them into laptops.

Announced today by Fujitsu and Fujitsu Laboratories, the companies' new recycling system collects used CDs and DVDs and reuses the plastic in the bodies of Fujitsu laptops, starting with the business-oriented Lifebook P772/E.

While Fujitsu provides the manufacturing base and collection of old optical discs, it's the company's lab arm that provides the recycling know-how: to avoid the chance of contaminants making their way into the manufacturing chain, Fujitsu Laboratories developed a chemical substances risk management database which allows Fujitsu's manufacturing arm to ensure its laptops comply with all legal requirements for plastic manufacturing.

A database of chemical substances and their associated contaminant risk may not sound terribly sexy, but Fujitsu claims the new system could have a dramatic environmental impact. As it stands - and with the recycled plastic only being used in the front panel of a single laptop - the company expects to reduce its use of new plastics by 10 tons per year while also slashing carbon dioxide emissions by 15 per cent.

The process works thanks to the material used in the manufacture of CDs and DVDs, a form of plastic known as polycarbonate. This plastic, which is not mixed with potential contaminants such as flame retardants, is the same material as used in laptop PC bodies. Coupled with a quality control process based on the substance database, Fujitsu has declared CDs and DVDs - always plentifully available - as being perfect for use in laptop manufacturing.

The recycling programme, which is currently active at the company's five Japanese recycling centres, is to be extended in the future, Fujitsu has confirmed, with the recovered plastics being extended to the manufacture of additional laptops and other Fujitsu products.

Thus far, Fujitsu has not indicated that it has plans to open recycling centres outside Japan's borders.

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