Research on recycling of plastic in electronic waste


Every year, Stena Recycling recycles plastic from hundreds of thousands of tonnes electronic waste. In the research project SenSoRe, new technologies are being tested to improve the recycling even more by separating dangerous substances such as chlorine and flame retardants.

Stena Recycling recycles electronic waste from all types of businesses in the Nordic region, Poland, Germany and Italy. The company has for many years separated two main types of plastic in electronic waste in its own process with sink-float technology. Firstly, the pure plastic that is recirculated to plastic manufacturers and can become new products, and secondly, the plastic that contains brominated flame retardants, chlorine and other dangerous substances which cannot be dispersed but must be incinerated under safe conditions.

The contaminated part of the plastic still contains a significant amount of pure plastic that cannot be extracted with sink-float technology. Stena Recycling is therefore a part of the research project SenSorRe where different refined technologies are being tested to extract the remaining pure plastic. A test-bed is being built in Stockholm and will be done in 2019. The goal with the technology is to be able to identify and separate e.g. halogens such as chlorine and bromine.

“Brominated flame retardants are necessary in electronics for reasons of fire safety. But when it comes to recycling of electronic waste, these substances become a problem. During many years we’ve been able to recycle most of the pure plastic, but our goal is to recycle the remaining pure plastic as well, which can be recycled instead of incinerated. We want to contribute to the largest circular solution for as much plastic as possible from the industry and other customers,” says Marianne Gyllenhammar at Stena Metall’s R&D department.

The technologies that are being tested can also be useful when recycling plastic from complex waste fractions that currently are landfilled.

The project that is being financed by Vinnova is operated by Swerim and aside from Stena, the following companies are part of the project: Acreo Swedish ICT AB, Cobolt AB, Fotonic i Norden AB,  IVL Svenska Miljöinsititutet AB, Mobergs produktkontroll AB, Optonova Sweden AB, Refind Technologies AB, SAPA (AB) Technology, Volvo Group Real Estate AB, Älmhults Elmek AB.


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