Utilisation of the waste material
The consumer is responsible for ensuring that the appliances delivered to collection points do not contain any extra parts: refrigerators should be cleared of any food and all dust-bags removed from vacuum‑cleaners, for example. Once a WEEE appliance has been brought to a collection point, SERTY will manage the collection and transport of the appliance to the waste treatment plants.
At the treatment plant, all glass, metal, and plastic parts are removed from the appliances. During the pre‑processing, all hazardous substances, such as lead, mercury, cadmium, and hexavalent chromium, are removed and delivered for further processing at the hazardous waste treatment plant. Also the packaging waste, cables, conductors, circuit boards, and plastic parts are sorted. After this, the sorted materials are crushed, separated mechanically from each other, and delivered on for utilisation.
Metals for the most effective recycling
Of all materials collected from waste electric and electronic equipment, metals have the highest utilisation rate. The reuse of plastic parts has also increased. The most economical way of utilising plastic parts collected from waste electric and electronic equipment is to capture their energy content.
With industrial processing, iron, aluminium, magnesium, copper, zinc, and stainless steel, for example, can be separated from other metals. Metals are usually separated from the equipment by crushing of the equipment. Precious metals are separated out via a smelting process. From circuit boards, metals are usually separated chemically. Parts that can be utilised as they are include mainly circuit boards, hard disks, and connectors.
The separated metals, plastics, and glass are re-utilised mainly in Finland.
The many uses of recycled material
Today, material obtained from waste electric and electronic equipment is used for manufacturing many kinds of products. For example, the aluminium from used computers is used for manufacturing shielding elements for new mobile phones. The properties of metal allow its transformation to fulfil its original purpose of use again.
As the price of oil has gone up, the use of recycled plastic has diversified from capture of the energy content to the manufacture of recycled products, such as fleece cloth, car parts, and refuse sacks.
Recycled glass can be used for manufacturing glass wool to be used as insulation, glass bottles and packages, window glass, and sandblasting material.