1,200 recycling sector companies will save up to 10 percent thanks to a new system developed by Tecnalia

December 12, 2011

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.

More than 1.5 million workers

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.

EARTO Innovation Prize

EARTO is a European organisation representing research and technology bodies of more than 300 such bodies from 26 countries. Each year since 2009 it has awarded the EARTO Innovation Prize, in recognition of the innovations of its members and highlighting their role in the European economy. This year they recognised the system for the detection of waste from electrical and electronic equipment from Tecnalia as being one of the best developed in 2011 for the benefit of European businesses at economic, environmental and social levels.

Elhuyar Fundazioa

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