Trials begin for collection and recovery of critical raw materials from electrical waste

Following a competitive tender exercise, the Critical Raw Material Closed Loop Recovery project has announced that Axion Consulting and Re-Tek from the UK, together with Ecodom from Italy, will be funded to trial novel ways of boosting the recovery of critical raw materials (CRMs) from household waste electrical and electronic products (WEEE).

The CRM collection mechanisms include retailer take-back schemes, reuse containers at household waste recycling centres, business collections, university drop-off hubs, school collections and other collection events.

With a focus on the recovery of cobalt, antimony, graphite, tantalum, rare earth elements, gold, silver, platinum group metals and copper, the trials will study the potential for range of techniques from manual and chemical dismantling to electrochemical and hydrometallurgical processes, to  increase recovery of Critical Raw Materials.

The EU LIFE funded Critical Raw Material Closed Loop Recovery project is investing over €400,000 in these trials to help boost the recovery of CRMs from discarded household products such as small appliances and electronic devices.

The trials will start during July 2016 and will be completed by 30 June 2018. Further trials in Germany and Turkey are anticipated to run later this year.

Jane Gardner of Axion Consulting said:
“Axion Consulting is very pleased to be involved in this project working with a strong consortium of partners including DixonsCarphone, DHL EnviroSolutions, E3 Recycling Ltd and ITRI Ltd. We are looking forward to working with our partners to trial different ways to engage with consumers to encourage them to return WEEE to retailers, and measure the impact this has on the volume and quality of material collected. The WEEE collected will then be processed using technologies which are at the forefront of CRM recovery techniques.”

Re-tek said:
“Re-tek and our Collaboration partners, Enscape Consultancy and University of West of Scotland are delighted to have secured funding to participate in the WEEE Collection and CRM recover Trials.
The award recognises the strength of the entire team and reflects the benefit of collaborative working where each organisation is using its expertise to create an innovative way to capture and extract.
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.”

Ecodom said:
“Ecodom is proud to bring its contribute to the evaluation of the opportunities to increase Critical Raw Materials (CRM) recovery from WEEE, by implementing the Italian collection trials in Milano.
These trials will focus on the small electronic appliances, which will be collected in a smarter way: the equipment containing CRM will be concentrated in specific flows, avoiding cherry picking of components and damage of the appliances, in order also to investigate the potential for reuse.”

Each year around 9.9 million tonnes of WEEE are generated in the EU, but only 30% is reported as properly collected and recycled. The Critical Raw Materials Closed Loop Recovery Project aims to increase the recovery of target CRMs by 5% by 2020 and by 20% by 2030.

The collection and recovery trials are the first stage in the €2.1m, three-and-a-half-year project, which is supported by the LIFE financial instrument of the European Union, Innovate UK, the Welsh Government and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), and led by WRAP. The outputs from the trials will inform policy recommendation throughout the EU.

Project partners include the European Recycling Platform (ERP), the European Advanced Recycling Network (EARN), the Wuppertal Institute and the Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN).

View further details about the tender awards and the CRM Closed Loop Recovery project: http://www.criticalrawmaterialrecovery.eu

European project launches tender to improve collection and recovery of critical raw materials from electrical waste

More than €660,000 is being invested in trials to identify the link between the methods of collection and the successful recovery of critical raw materials from household waste electrical and electronic products.

The Collect and Recovery trial tender is open now. Suppliers are encouraged to demonstrate the entire collection, reuse and recovery cycle within their tenders. Collection trials must be delivered in the UK, Germany, Italy or Turkey, and the recovery trials must happen in an EU member state. Bids from single entities or consortia are equally encouraged. Closing date for applications is 7 April 2016.

Full details on the eligibility criteria, scope and timescales can be found on the project website: http://www.criticalrawmaterialrecovery.eu/tenders

Each year around 9.9 million tonnes of Waste Electronic and Electrical Equipment (WEEE) are generated in the EU, but only 30% is reported as properly collected and recycled. The Critical Raw Materials Closed Loop Recovery Project aims to increase the recovery of target critical raw materials by 5% by 2020 and by 20% by 2030.

The collection and recovery trials are the first stage in the €2.1m, three-and-a-half-year project, which is supported by the LIFE financial instrument of the European Union, Innovate UK and the Welsh Government, and led by WRAP. The outputs from the trials will inform policy recommendation throughout the EU.

Project partners include the European Recycling Platform (ERP), the European Advanced Recycling Network (EARN), the Wuppertal Institute and the Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN).

Marcus Gover, Director, WRAP said:

“WRAP research has shown that in the UK alone, we dispose of around 1.4 million tonnes of electrical and electronic products per year, and nearly 40% of this is landfilled. Yet these products contain precious metals and critical raw materials such as gold and platinum, which are essential components of many household technology products and appliances. Economically and environmentally, it makes no sense to be burying them. Ensuring we have effective ways to recover valuable materials is crucial, so these trials are an important step in the development of the project.”

Scott Butler, UK and Ireland Regional Director, ERP said:

“The Critical Raw Material Recovery project is a major R&D project that will allow us to assess whether we can get more value from the WEEE that is collected and treated across Europe and explore further opportunities for improving the collection of end-of-life products. The benefits from these trials could have major benefits for producers and the circular economy, as well as the environment and society as a whole.”

Kai Kramer, Manager WEEE Operations, EARN said:

“The trials will be a unique opportunity to build synergies by sharing the experiences of collection and recovery activities by various actors in different countries. This would be a great chance to gain knowledge and to push innovation to improve the collection rates and to increase the amount of recovered critical raw materials in Europe.”

The Knowledge Transfer Network’s (KTN) Head of Sustainability and Resource Efficiency, Steve Fletcher said:

“KTN is proud to be a partner in the Critical Raw Material Closed Loop Recovery project. Proposals are sought from industry stakeholders with expertise in the collection and recovery of WEEE and the drive to challenge current thinking. The open tender process will offer all those with the right knowledge and expertise the chance to take part in these exciting trials.”

For further information about the Critical Raw Material Closed Loop Recovery project, please contact: criticalrawmaterialrecovery@wrap.org.uk

Critical Raw Material Closed Loop Recovery Stakeholder Meeting

The first stakeholder meeting was held in Cardiff on the 26th January 2016. The group includes industry experts across Europe, from throughout the electricals supply chain. The stakeholders will be a sounding board for the ongoing development of the project.

The meeting engaged and informed them about the project objectives and gathered their support and insight. This will ensure that the project delivers the needs of industry.

The stakeholders enjoyed a lively debate about the potential of the project and the challenges of delivering an ambitious programme. If you are interested in becoming a member of the group and are able to commit to supporting the project, please do get in touch at criticalrawmaterialrecovery@wrap.org.uk

The presentation delivered on the day is available here