critical recoveryFollowing 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).