Plastics from Electronic Waste

Photo: An inflated plastic hoop

A fifth of the electronic waste are plastics. Up to now only 5.000 out of 400.000 tons plastics are being re-used. A European electrical and electronic waste guideline WEEE envisions that a portion of 75 per cent should be recycled.

This is a difficult task since many different plastics are contained in electronic waste. Also these are often contaminated with heavy metals and bromine containing flame retardants. Current techniques were not able to seperate these pollutants. On top of that: stabilisers, filler materials and dyes are helpful for the manufacturing of devices but impose problems for the recycling.

Now the Fraunhofer-Institute for process engnineering and packaging IVV have developed a method that reaches a recycling rate of 95 per cent. The British non-profit-organisation WRAP (The Waste and Resources Action Programme) for sustainable managing has made a worldwide comparison and the method was first regarding economical as well as ecological aspects.

With the new Fraunhofer procedure it is possible to re-use even heavily contaminated or burdened plastics. The resulting recyclates are supposed to have properties as goog as new plastics.

Dr. Andreas Mäurer, department head of plastics recycling at IVV, explains the steps of the procedure: "Firstly, the devices are being hackled in a huge mill then the metal pieces are being sorted out. The remains are a mix of very small pieces of plastics, fibres, wood, foamed materials. An environmentally friendly solvent gets the reusable polymers from the waste mixture. Unsolvable foreign matters and pollutants are being deposited."

COMPAMED.de; Source: Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft