Copenhagen, Denmark — European WEEE contains economically and strategically valuable critical metals. A new report outlines exactly how much of these metals can be found in thrown out mobile phones, laptop and desktop PCs, and flatscreen monitors and TV, together with suggestions for improving thier recovery. The report on „Present and potential future recycling of critical metals in WEEE“ results from an international project that was undertaken together with the Environment Agency of England and Wales, the Federal Environment Agency of Germany, the Wuppertal Institute, and Lund University.
The generation of waste of selected WEEE product groups has been calculated to be about 254.000 tonnes in 2008, 340.000 tonnes in 2010 and 640.000 tonnes in 2015. Due to the long life-time of solar energy panels, only avery limited amount of this waste will be enerated by 2010 and 2015. The potential recycling of critical metals in solar power converters has therefore not been included in the further work, but photovoltaic waste is expected to be a potential recovery source for critical metals (such as indium) in the future.
In total, about 2.000 tonnes of critical metals could potentially be recovered in 2008, 2.300
tonnes in 2010, and 3.000 tonnes in 2015. Around of 83 per cent of these quantities by weight is cobalt, primarily from mobile phone and laptop batteries.
The full report can be downloaded from cri.dk.
Source: Copenhagen Resource Institute