Fraunhofer IVV Press Release on 18 August 2006

Economical Plastic Recycling of Electro- / Elektronic Waste

Electro-/elektronic waste contains different plastics as well as many impurities and contaminants. In order to recycle the plastics, the main challenge is to remove dangerous substances like flame retardants first. The Fraunhofer Institute for Process Technology and Packaging IVV achieved a technical break-through with the CreaSolv®-Process.

For the first time this process allows recycling of very contaminated and dirty plastics from electro(nic) waste. The recycled plastics from the CreaSolv®-Process are comparable to virgin products. The CreaSolv®-Process is a solvent-based plastic recycling technology. It is based on selective extraction of a targeted polymer, followed by a cleaning step. Experts from WRAP, a project of the Government of the United Kingdom, have evaluated the Fraunhofer recycling process and described it in their interims report as efficient and economical. WRAP stands for "Waste & Resources Action Programme" and sustainable economy. WRAP wants to break new commercial realistic ground for the seperation of brominated flame retardants in plastics from old electro(nic) devices. The aim is a closed material cycle: Recycled plastics for the production of new electro(nic) devices.

The CreaSolv®-Process is also able to recycle very contaminated mixed plastic waste as it is collected in large volumes after metal recycling from electro(nic) waste as light shredder residue. The Fraunhofer IVV proved this in a joint project with the KERP Center of Excellence Elctronic & Environment from Austria. In Germany alone approximately 100.000 tonnes of this waste stream are collected annually without the ability to recycle it.

Efficient Seperation of Dangerous Substances 
The European Directive on Electrical and Electronic Waste (WEEE) dictates recycling quota of 75 %. The existing metal recycling technologies alone are not enough to achieve this goal. Alone in Germany approximately 2 million tonnes of electronic waste are collected annually, 400.000 tonnes out of this consist of different plastics. Out of 59.000 tonnes registered plastics from the collected electro/electronic waste of officially assigned collection companies only 5.000 tonnes were processed and 54.000 tonnes were waste-handled. The main difficulties in electronic waste recycling lie in the large variety of plastics, which are additionally contaminated with impurities. Besides heavy metals, flame retardants play the major role. Most of the flame retardants consist of brominated chemical substances, which have to be seperated from the recycling input, because they prevent a future re-use. Additionally there are fillers, stabilizers and pigments, which are helpful when producing the devices, but can be a problem during recycling. The CreaSolv®-Process is protected by patent application and a registered trademark and achieves a cleaning performance of 99 %. It was developed from the Fraunhofer IVV in cooperation with CreaCycle GmbH in Grevenbroich, Germany.

The Fraunhofer Recycling Process wins the Race
WRAP has evaluated the process and confirmed its technical and economical feasability. In a global study various recycling technologies were compared. The CreaSolv®-Process performed the best and achieved first place, both in terms of ecology and commercial viability. The Final Report titled „Develop a process to separate brominated flame retardants from WEEE polymers – Final Report“ in available on the Internet and can be downloaded und link. For commercialisation the development results can be licensed from WRAP (for the United Kingdom) and from Fraunhofer IVV (worldwide).

The First Industrial Pilot Plant
In 2007 it is planned to build a pilot plant for the CreaSolv®-Process with an annual capacity of 500 tonnes. As next step the first industrial production line can be launched in order to access the huge resource potential from electro(nic) waste. The process enables the electro- and waste-handling industry to fulfil the regulated recycling quota of the actual EU Directive on Electrical and Electronic Waste and to recycle "RoHS“-conform plastics. RoHS is a guideling in the United Kingdom and stands for "restriction of the use of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment". Effective 1 Juli 2006 hazardous substances, such as lead, mercury, cadmium, hexavalent chromium, polybrominated biphenyl (PBB) and polybrominated diphenylethers (PBDE) are banned from the use in new electronic devices. The recycled plastics from the CreaSolv®-Process fulfil all requirements relevant in the EU and can therefore be used for the production of new devices.

Contact at Fraunhofer IVV
Dr. Andreas Mäurer
Tel. 0 81 61/491-330
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

CreaSolv® is a registered trademark of CreaCycle GmbH

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