After waste from electrical and electronic equipment has been collected, ground and sorted, Paprec then has to sell it, so that it can be injected back into the production cycle. The opportunity to examine the workings of dealing in secondary raw materials within the group, its strategy regarding waste management and the distribution of the tonnages recovered, and the many new uses that the recovery and recycling of WEEE makes possible.
HOW IS WEEE SOLD?
At Paprec, all purchases and sales of recycled electronic and electrical waste are centralised in a unit known as the FCR (and not via an external trading company). This unit is responsible for working with group partners but also for prospecting for new customers, carrying out technical and financial audits of potential outlets and for promoting sales by the Group's WEEE branch.
In this area, the group has put the emphasis on excellence, making a long-term commitment, aimed at supplying the market with the best quality available, in order to grow its potential sales at the best possible price, to reach a group of refiners or larger industrial companies, and finally to support both raising their standards and waste regulation specifications, which tomorrow will demand even higher recycling and re-use rates for secondary raw materials. In this sector, as in other waste recycling areas, anticipation is the key word, the purpose also being to form long-term links with group partners anxious to use recycled material for economic or ecological reasons, to establish relationships built on trust and based on the irreproachable quality of products supplied, by providing them with volumes of recycled WEEE waste of uniform quality throughout the year. Several years ago, this WEEE which, today, has become a new secondary material, was condemned to be incinerated or buried. This is therefore a market experiencing constant changes. To position itself within it and sustain its approach, the Paprec Group counts, above all, on the efficiency of its electronic waste collection and recycling techniques, its growing capability in the treatment of household and industrial waste and the reliability of its technical inspections.
Where trading is concerned, the specialists in the FCR sales unit work hand in hand with household and industrial waste sorting factories. According to grids showing the quality of incoming and outgoing flows, which WEEE businesses send to them, our sales people identify the names of a certain number of refiners or producers likely to be interested and work to obtain the best technical/financial deal when making the sale. Premium IT, electronic and electrical waste is then packaged at Paprec WEEE treatment centres and sent to the various WEEE outlets/channels for treatment, refining and, in some cases, direct reintegration into a given product.
TO WHOM IS IT SOLD, AND WHY?
Materials recovered from waste sorting are both numerous and varied. Although all the percentages vary according to the throughput being treated (the composition of a computer screen, for example, is radically different from that of a printer), we can say that among the three main families (ferrous, non-ferrous and plastic fractions), the iron extracted from waste collected represents more than 30% of the overall flow, with plastic and copper accounting for roughly 20% each. Then, in descending order, come aluminium, stainless steel, all the precious metals (gold, silver and palladium), particularly from the disassembly of electronic circuit-boards, and the fifteen different chemical pairs recovered when recycling used batteries. In fact, recycling saline and alkaline batteries (80% of batteries) once the waste has been sorted and processed, recovers zinc, carbon and manganese, while used lithium batteries produce cobalt and lithium, for example. Collecting used batteries also yields plastic, scrap metal and even lead for resale.
In this particular field of waste management, the recycling company's main customers are refiners from every corner of Europe who process the materials sold by the group to achieve a level of purity that is of interest for industrial applications. Each processing company will therefore receive sorted recyclable waste (such as electronic circuit-boards containing certain sought-after components) and be able, using its own system for treating the fractions derived from household and industrial waste, to recover sought-after materials (such as the gold from those ubiquitous circuit-boards) and transform them into increasingly specific feedstock products that will meet manufacturers' requirements. In some cases, the involvement of a second processing company is necessary, to improve purity, for example, from 90 to 99%, increasing the range of re-use possibilities for the former electronic and electrical waste. Where the grade is not high enough, the materials still re-enter the production cycle, but in less exacting situations. As an example, the gold from an electronic circuit-board may be re-used on new circuit-boards. Sometimes, certain materials with no inserts (pollutants, mixed materials) reach such quality levels that Paprec Group can sell them directly to various producers.
But not all recycled WEEE is necessarily injected back into the industrial field that it came from. After micronisation or regeneration, Paprec can sell the plastics fraction from a quantity of WEEE to the plastics industry, and other types of material, more generally, to industries that might use one of the many components recovered within the quantities of recyclable waste collected. So ends one of the many recycling cycles for electronic waste.
The recycling batteries and waste electrical and electronic equipment is a step-by-step process. Discover the different steps :
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