Recycling rates in the EU are increasing, in part thanks to the End-of-Life Vehicles (ELV) and the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directives (2000/53/CE and 2002/96/CE). Today, more than 85% of ELV materials have to be recycled; the next step is to reach a 95% recycling rate by 2015. However, Europe produces 12 million tonnes/year of electrical and electronic waste and more than 14 million vehicles/year reach the end of their useful life. Recycling technologies moreover still have room for improvement in order to achieve the targets set in the WEEE and ELV directives. For instance, problems persist in the treatment of dark plastics, rubber and difficult input materials such as light shredded fractions.
In order to solve the troubles detected with dark plastics, rubber and other difficult material, the project would develop an innovative sorting unit for end-of -life vehicles in order to increase the recycling rate and to promote the reuse or valorisation of different components from shredder waste. The project also aimed to:
- Reduce the amount of solid waste from the automotive and electronic-electric sectors that is disposed in landfills;
- Use an alternative energy source to separate waste that it is not reusable or that cannot be valorised; and
- Use suitable residues for energy generation and develop potential new markets and uses for others.
The sorting unit designed by the project would also reduce management costs from waste disposal to landfills and contribute to improved lifecycle maintenance for vehicles and electronic and electrical goods.
The ELVISUSTECH project designed and constructed a prototype that is able to separate ELV waste with more precision than the current mechanical systems. The main sensors used at the pilot plant are a magnet, an eddy current and inductive sensors. The settings and geometric arrangements of the inductive sensors was particularly innovative and produced great results.
The results obtained show that the prototype is able to treat the ‘Fluff’ (a waste fraction that is nowadays sent to landfill) and break it down valuable parts: ones contains ferrous metals; another non-ferrous metals such as copper and aluminium, and the last one contains a mixture of plastics. This last fraction is used to produce high quality WDF (waste derived fuel) that can be used in cement kilns.
This technology will be implemented on a full scale at the recycling site in Fragnor, and is expected to reduce up to a 50% the current landfill disposal, increasing the percentage of ELV material being recycled from 80% to 91%. Including the materials removed before fragmentation (wheels, batteries, etc.) the recycling rate will permit the company to fulfil with the requirements of the European Directives foreseen for 2015 – i.e. 95%. Additionally, this process is economically viable and can be installed in a plant, either to complement the existing equipment or to substitute the current one. Moreover, the plant configuration is sufficiently flexible to be able to treat other types of residues.