Engineering polymers can now be extracted and recycled in bulk out of WEEE and post consumer and industrial waste in a “breakthrough” process developed by Sims Recycling Solutions.
Although traditionally a metals recycler, Sims has been developing the plastics recycling technology for five years and has been trialling it at its Newport, Gwent, electronics recycling facility.
The company now plans to roll out the technology on a large scale at a new plant, capable of recycling 70,000 tonnes of plastics per year, at its Billingham site.
Previously the volume of plastics Sims received was not great enough to be financially viable to refine the polymer stream further and extract more polymers.
Sims said it is the new facility, technology and improved volumes combined that will allow it to go after more complicated waste streams and polymers.
Sims Recycling Solutions UK country manager Biagio Adragna said: “The volume of plastics entering our process has reached a point that has allowed us to invest in chasing and refining different polymers in suitable volumes for sustainable markets. The new process can create a number of different polymers which are usable for compounding.
“The other advantage is that we can now chase complex polymer streams from other sources. Our process is able to cope with a very complex set of plastics. Valuable plastics can be recovered from electronics or other material streams, either post-consumer, post-industrial or post-car shredder residues.”
Previously the end product plastic could be used to produce products such as vehicle brackets, but the extra processing developed by Sims should be able to extract polymer grades with greater clarity. These polymers could be used in components on the back of TV screens and it is hoped that eventually the polymers extracted will be of a good enough quality and clarity so they can be used, for example, at the front of the TV.