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Banbury, UK -- With increasing concern of the security of a range of strategic raw materials it is important to understand the current recovery activity occurring. A new report by WRAP (Waste and Resorurces Action Programme) opposite considers the capacity for recovery of materials from WEEE products. It is based on a survey at treatment centres and reprocessors.

Cover of report
Source: WRAP
The recovery of strategic or critical raw materials (CRMs) generally consists of two discrete processes. The first is the dismantling of the WEEE, removing specific components such as high grade circuit boards, liquid crystal displays, hard disk drives, batteries and phosphor powder coated glass and segregating these into streams for further processing by specialist operators. These operations are carried out in what is termed treatment centres generically, and specifically Authorised Treatment Facilities (ATFs) and Approved Authorised Treatment Facilities (AATFs) in the UK. The second process is the recovery of CRMs from these waste streams from the treatment centres, much of which is carried out by the large metal refiners and smelters using a combination of specialist pyrometallurgical, hydrometallurgical and mechanical processes.

The response to this survey was limited with only 7 percent response rate from the treatment centres and 13.5 percent from the reprocessors. The surveys that were completed did not yield sufficient data to enable meaningful capacity estimates to be made for the WEEE treatment, CRM treatment, or CRM reprocessing.

However, some key observations could be made:

* The level of awareness of CRMs and their recovery potential, both technical and economic, is limited, with less than 50 percent of respondents being aware of one or more of the CRMs apart from the rare earth metals of which 56 percent had heard.
* The amount of information available regarding the quantities, locations and economics of recovery of CRMs is poor, such that even those considering developing CRM recovery capacity are unable to make well-informed investment decisions.
* Reprocessors do not know the CRM content of their incoming WEEE streams as there are no standardised methods for carrying out assays of these streams for recovery, further inhibiting the willingness of reprocessors to process unknown input streams.
* Improved recognition and understanding of the CRM content would allow most of the treatment centres to segregate CRM bearing streams for onward reprocessing rather than simply for precious metal recovery.

Concerning the standards, there is currently no official product quality standard for recovered CRMs although the quality of recovered CRMs is considered equal to virgin; this impacts the risk based decision by the procurement functions within the component manufacturers on the use of recovered CRMs in lieu of virgin materials. This risk assessment is made more difficult despite the higher prices of the raw materials, as the low concentrations used mean the percentage contribution of these materials to the overall product cost is small.

The full report on "Strategic raw materials, recovery capacity and technologies" can be downloaded from zerowastescotland.org.uk.

Quelle: WRAP (Waste and Resorurces Action Programme)

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Artikel vom: 14.06.2012 10:50
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