In the modern society, people use a lot of electrical and electronic equipment that, at the end of their lifecycle, become e-waste (WEEE) from which it is possible to recover valuable component materials.
Every year, these wastes grow between 3 and 5 % in the European Union and the recycling activity needs to be constantly increased, but this is difficult and expensive; the danger relates to the fact that to solve the waste problem, products are exported to lower-income countries and, if they are not treated correctly, they can release toxic substances that are dangerous for the environment and health.
Researchers in the EU-funded CLOSEWEEE project have found a method for sorting old plastics for reuse in new consumer goods and developed a technique for recycling batteries that recovers materials as graphite, lithium, cobalt, nickel and copper.
Paola Castrillo, project coordinator of CLOSEWEEE and research and development team manager at the Vertech Group in France says ‘While for many electrical components, effective recycling techniques have already been developed, there are many valuable components that are not recovered. Our goal was to find ways to reclaim these components, including high-grade plastics, additives, critical minerals, and metals.’
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