Toxic POPs can be removed prior to WEEE recycling treatment leaving UTC unchanged

   Thu, 23rd Jul, 2020

The European Electronics Recyclers Association (EERA) published a document in 2018, calling for the existing Unintended Trace Contaminants (UTC) threshold for flame retardants, Deca-BDE, of 1000 ppm to be retained, in order to prevent the decimation of WEEE plastics recycling and the failure to reach WEEE recycling targets. This issue has not been resolved and EERA’s paper on the POP (Persistent Organic Pollutants) separation process remains relevant today.

The recycling technology of complex electrical products has developed into becoming a mechanical recycling treatment, whereby the plastics with substances of concern such as Brominated Flame Retardants (BFRs) are separated into an identifiable fraction that is monitored to prove environmentally safe treatment. These plastics are incinerated to destruct the embedded BFRs.

The 2004 Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) declaration concerning the removal of substances of concern is the cornerstone of advances in recycling technology and investment by WEEE recyclers. Any roll back on this position, such as removal of POPs prior to treatment, would set the industry back in many ways.

EERA argues that it would be an environmental disaster if the WEEE plastics industry is forced into decline because of thresholds set too low. It would jeopardise the progressive European WEEE recycling targets and it would go against the objectives of a circular economy, resulting in a further increase of CO2 emissions by incineration of these plastics and huge extra energy requirements for the production of more virgin technical plastics.

Read EERA’s document in full: