UK company awarded EU funding for waste electrical product recovery trials

UK-based IT disposal and asset retirement firm Re-Tek and Axion Consulting have been awarded separate trials to explore novel ways to boost the recovery process of critical raw materials (CRMs) from household waste electrical and electronic products (WEEE).

The trials will explore retailer take-back schemes, reuse containers at recycling centres, business collections and university drop-off hubs as part of the EU LIFE funded CRM Closed Loop Recovery project.

More than €400,000 will be invested into three trials, two in the UK and one in Italy through the Ecodom firm, and will focus on how small electronic devices can be collected in smarter ways.

A spokesperson from Re-Tek said: “Successful collection and extraction methods during the trial will advance the opportunity to recover Cobalt, Gold and Silver from ICT products for re-use activities helping to create a more sustainable supply. The team will be happy to hear from local authorities, educational establishments, companies (private and third sector) interested in collaborating with us on this exciting programme.”

The trials, which started this month and will end in June 2018, will focus on the recovery of cobalt, antimony, graphite, tantalum, gold, silver, platinum metals and copper. Studies will be conducted as to what techniques, whether manual, chemical, electrochemical or hydrometallurgical, would serve as the optimal method to increase recovery.

The outputs of the trial form the first stage in a €2.1m, three-and-a-half-year project, which will directly inform policy recommendations throughout the EU. Project partners include the Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN), while the Welsh Government, Defra, WRAP and Innovate UK are all supporting the scheme.

WEEE Directive

Annually, almost 10 million tonnes of WEEE is generated in the EU, with just 30% reported as properly collected or recycled. The CRM Closed Loop Recovery Project aims to increase the percentage of recovered CRMs by 5% by 2020 rising to 20% by 2030.

The regional director for UK and Ireland at the European Recycling Platform recently explained that, despite the UK’s WEEE Directive creating £18m in cost reduction for producers, there is much work still to do.

Recently, Supply chain managers The Compliance Map explained what businesses have to look out for when complying with the WEEE Directive, in an exclusive blog post for edie.

Matt Mace

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie