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Streams – WEEE
WEEE – Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment
Modern electronics are made of rare and expensive resources, which can be recycled and reused if the waste is effectively managed, saving raw materials.
From big to small, from lamps to IT, when devices reach their end-of-life they are considered Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE). WEEE contains a complex mixture of materials, some of which are hazardous, which can cause major environmental and health problems if the discarded devices are not managed properly.
Improving the collection, treatment, and recycling of electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) at the end of its life can:
• improve sustainable production and consumption
• increase resource efficiency
• contribute to the circular economy
Which are the WEEE categories?
There are different categories of WEEE, regarding its composition and ways of management, treatment, and recycling:
The EU has introduced the WEEE Directive and the RoHS Directive to tackle the issue of the growing amount of WEEE.
WEEE Directive – here
Large domestic appliances
Washing machines, tumble dryers, dishwashing machines, cookers;
The first stage of recycling is decontamination: cables and other electrical components are removed; ballasts, plastics, iron compounds and other metals are separated and recovered. These materials are then sent for further processing and recovery.
1. Pre-shedding decontamination
Temperature exchange equipment /Cooling appliances
Refrigerators, freezers, automatic cold products delivery machines.
Products include fridges, freezers, and any appliances with refrigerating devices such as water coolers. Some appliances also contain refrigerant gases classified as Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS) such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFC), hydrofluorocarbons (HFC) and hydro-chlorofluorocarbons (HCFC) that are now banned.
These gases are captured and treated in ODS recovery plants. Cold appliance de-pollution entails a variety of processes: compressors are decontaminated to recover ODS and oils; insulating foam is treated to recover ODS; metals are salvaged and resold, and plastics can be reused for new products. Recovered oils and ODS are destroyed in a specialised treatment process.
4. Foam decontamination
Televisions, screens, LCD, pc monitors
Display equipment includes cathode ray tubes (found in old-style TV sets and computer monitors) and flat-screen TVs and computer monitors, such as plasma and liquid crystal displays (LCD).
Cathode ray tubes (CRT) contain hazardous phosphor powder, leaded glass, copper, and other rare metals. These materials can be reused to make new products. Panel and funnel glass from the cathode ray tubes are also recovered. The coating on the funnel glass is removed and the glass is cleaned for new CRT manufacture.
Most LCD TVs use mercury lamps to light the screen. To remove the lamps, the appliance must be disassembled before processing the LCD screen. Research is currently being carried out to develop more effective, automated solutions.
1. Hand dismantling
2. Cathode ray tube separation (Pb, Ba)
3. Crushing and metal removal
4. Glass cleaning
Monitor body and electronics