MADRID (Scrap Monster): Tecnalia Research & Innovation has developed a new recycling system enabling the classification of waste from electrical and electronic equipment that cannot be ordered by conventional procedures, due to their similarities in colour, weight and shape. This system has received the EARTO Prize, giving recognition to the most innovative projects at a European level.
How to manage waste has become one of the most important paradigms of contemporary society, given the large quantities of electrical and electronic equipment that is designed, manufactured and finally thrown way, this type of waste not being biodegradable and at times highly toxic. Up to 1,200 companies working in the recycling sector will be able to save up to 10% of their recycling costs thanks to this new system developed by Tecnalia Research & Innovation.
This detection system for waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE), providing classification for recycling, detects 98% of various WEEE that cannot be ordered by conventional procedures, due to their similarities in colour, weight and shape, and classifies them in real time using optical descriptors. Apart from reducing the cost of recycling for companies by 10%, it will contribute to reducing external cost, i.e. those derived from destruction and dumping. Thanks to this system, about 400 tons of aluminium per year is obtained, 40% more than that obtained with traditional systems, which can generate direct benefits of 600,000 euros a year.
At a worldwide level, more than 1.5 million employees in more than 50 countries are involved in recycling-related work. The annual turnover is more than 115,000 million euros and the industry overall moves more than 600 million tons of material every year. In Europe alone there are between 700 and 1,200 companies working in WEEE recycling who will benefit from this new development.
WEEE makes up 4% of urban waste in Europe and is increasing by between 16% and 28% every five years. Europe produces 6.5 million tons a year of this waste and currently 90% ends up in dumps. Moreover, the forecast is that the amount of WEEE continues to grow and at a rate three times more than overall urban waste.
To control the environmental impact of this increasing waste, anticipated to reach 12 million tons by 2015, the European Union has approved legislation that obliges the recovery of about 70-80% of the weight of WEEE produced and the reuse of 50-75% of the recovered material. This Law reinforces the need to make greater effort to develop new techniques and technologies for enhancing the performance of these methods currently being applied for the recycling of this waste, fruit of this effort being this Tecnalia system for detection.