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WEEE collection and CRM recovery trials: piloting a holistic approach for Scotland

Paper Topic: 
CEST2017 - Electric and electronic waste

Pages :
712 - 718

Corresponing Author: 
Andrew Hursthouse
Hursthouse, A., Kelly, S., McPherson, W., Menzies, B., Mirzaeian, M. Wood, D.,Hendry, S.,Abbas, Q.
Paper ID: 
Paper Status: 
Date Paper Accepted: 
Paper online: 

Re-Tek UK and its partners, Enscape Consulting and the University of West of Scotland commenced trials for the collection and recovery of critical raw materials from waste electrical and electronic (WEEE) products in July 2016. Sponsored by the EU LIFE funded project ‘Critical Raw Material Closed Loop Recovery’ coordinated by WRAP with EARN, ERP UK Ltd, KTN Ltd and Wuppertal Institute as beneficiaries. The trials are aimed at boosting the recovery of critical raw materials (CRMs) from household waste electrical and electronic products (WEEE) and Information Communications Technology (ICT) in particular, after functioning equipment is separated out for re-use. The new collection models provided residents with the opportunity to drop-off unwanted electrical and electronic appliances at a time and place that suits them, through a collaborative approach which encourages local authorities, educational establishments, businesses, and Social Enterprises, etc to act as hub sites. Hubs were designed to minimize product damage and encourage drop-off, rather than hoarding. Extraction methods developed after the collection phase of the trial looked at the opportunity to recover cobalt, gold and silver from ICT products, with the potential to inform how a more sustainable supply chain could be developed in Scotland. The elements studied were selected to demonstrate financial opportunity (gold/silver) and a strategic priority material (cobalt) for long term supply. These are based on bioleaching and electrochemical recovery using novel carbon based electrode systems, and chemical processing methods using extraction techniques with an assessment of pilot performance and scale up challenges. Our report is on the state of progress towards practical solutions to WEEE and CRM recovery.

critical raw materials, bioleaching, chemical extraction, electrochemical recovery, electronic equipment collection, hub sites, cobalt, silver, gold,