WEEE represents one of the fastest growing waste streams in the EU, and less than 40% is recycled. It is in this way that the recycling WEEE becomes a necessity, with the aim of giving a second life to these materials. We tell you about the process that allows these materials to be recovered and reinserted into the production system.
Electronic devices and electrical equipment define modern life: from washing machines and hoovers to smartphones and computers, it is hard to imagine life without them. Yet the waste they generate has become an obstacle to the EU's efforts to reduce its ecological footprint.
The basis for treatment of old appliances is the Directive 2012/19/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council on waste electrical and electronic equipment and its specific implementation into national law of the individul countries.
WEEE recycling process
The treatment of waste equipment depends on type and substances in the waste equipment and is carried out manually, partially or fully automaticalle in certified and aproved waste treatment plants, according to the respective state law for WEEE treatment.
Preparation for re-use
Priority shall be given to the preparation for re-use of WEEE, components and consumables prior to the specific treatment of WEEE, applying the principle of the waste hierarchy.
Thats why as a first step, the devices are checked for reuse in the treatment plan and, if reuse is possible, cleaned and repaired if necessary.
In the case preparation for reuse is not practicable, harmful substances and impurities shall be removed from the equipment in accordance with Annex VII of the WEEE Directive. These include i.a. batteries, fluorescent tubes, tomer cartdriges, CFC, glass, wood, etc. These separated components and mixtures are then recycled or disposed of in state-of-the-art post-treatment and waste recycling plants.
After removing harmful substances and impurities from the equipment, the remaining electronic components are shredded using multistage mechanical pulping processes. During this procedure, metal, plastic and residual fractions are produced by separating the material composites.
Metals such as iron, copper, aluminum, precious metals, etc are sorted by type and melted down in metal smelters as secondary raw materials.
During the process of removal of its components or materials, components which may release hazardous substances into the environment or which may be diluted in the remaining fractions and contaminate them must not be damaged or destroyed.
Materials and fractions are usually obtained by manual, mechanical, shredding or shredding processes. It is in this way that they can be recovered or, as a last resort, disposed of. Fractions and materials shall be identified by EWL codes, accounted for and their destination indicated in order to calculate waste recovery targets.
Disponsing WEEE in the form of landfill or incineration is not permitted. ‘Disposal’ means any operation which does not include recovery, even where the operation has a secondary consequence the reclamation of substances or energy.
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