BSEF, the International Bromine Council, has recently published a comprehensive report on the flows of plastics from WEEE and their recycling in Europe. The study, prepared by leading consultancy Sofies, looks at the impact of brominated flame retardants (BFRs) on the recycling of plastics from WEEE.
The most important findings
About 2.6 million tonnes of WEEE plastics are produced in Europe every year. 9 per cent of plastics contain brominated flame retardants. One of the biggest problems: Only about half of all WEEE plastics generated in Europe are collected and subsequently recycled through official collection points. The other half simply ends up in unknown channels, such as the waste bin, and risks to be processed in low-quality recycling plants often after export.
On average, 55 per cent of plastics originating from WEEE and entering specialized recycling facilities are effectively recycled. The PCR plastics (post-consumer recycled plastics) produced in this way can then be used again to manufacture new plastic products. The study results prove one thing above all: flame retardants containing bromine do not change the recycling results compared to other flame retardants, as they are sorted out and disposed of through various processes.
EERA, the association of electronics recyclers in Europe, sees its view confirmed by the study results. So does EERA board member and MGG Polymers General Manager Chris Slijkhuis: "As recyclers of WEEE we have learned over the years how to deal with brominated flame retardants. Despite the complex mix of plastics from a wide variety of end-of-life devices, we can produce post-consumer recycled plastics that comply with REACH, RoHS and POP regulations. This is important to give consumers security of getting compliant products and at the same time to move towards a circular economy.