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NRAs 2018: Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Innovation

WINNER: eSynergy Technologies

Europe’s first intrinsically safe and emissions-controlled recycling process for refrigeration equipment and hydrocarbon-blown composite insulation panels (CIPs) was developed by eSynergy.

Its system represents the first practical solution to the encapsulated recycling of supermarket and other commercial refrigeration equipment containing ozone-depleting substances (ODS), high global warming potential and flammable gases. But it became apparent that the system was also of major benefit for the recycling of CIPs used in the construction sector. It is estimated that around 40,000 tonnes a year of such waste is generated.

Full size CIPs can be fed into the pre-shredder and all shredding takes place in a nitrogen-rich environment, maintaining an oxygen level below 4%. This removes the risks associated of dealing with hydrocarbon-blown insulation foam. It also removes the need to cut the panels, which is often done using grinders or plasma torches, and so mitigates associated fire risks.

JUDGES’ COMMENT: “This showed an obvious commitment to innovation and the delivery of it, as well as good evidence to back it up.”

Gases released during shredding are drawn off and routed through a bespoke activated carbon absorption system. A thermolysis process treats the hydrocarbon-rich PUR/PIR foam and recovers energy from the thermal decomposition process.

CIP foam has typically been treated as non-hazardous and this was supported by manufacturers, despite the same material being used in fridges and compulsorily consigned as hazardous. eSynergy challenged this rationale with the regulators to regularise the categorisation of this waste as hazardous, which has now been agreed.

waste electrical and electronic equipment innovation

waste electrical and electronic equipment innovation

A recent addition to the plant design is a microwave pyrolysis which destroys the molecular structure of the foam and has potential to produce a low-sulphur carbon black and oil.

eSynergy is the first UK WEEE installation to be permitted under the Industrial Emissions Directive. By collaborating with regulators, it has redefined Best Available Treatment Recovery and Recycling Techniques, and set the new standard.


  • WasteCare
  • Computer Disposals
  • Resource Efficiency Wales

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