There is a global crisis of availability for rare earth metals which has gripped the world since the start of the technology boom in the late 20th century. There has become a growing concern with the disposal of technology containing these elements, leading to depletion of this finite resource. This mobile recycling system processes waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE), by separating it into its constituent metals. These are then sold to precious metal refineries by the recycling system operator, providing a financial incentive for WEEE disposal organisations to help eradicate the trend of exportation to developing countries where environmental regulations go un-enforced and contribute to health, environmental and economic degradation of these countries.
The system decontaminates the recycyclates to comply with the WEEE Directive (2007) which stipulates all separated materials destined for recycling at a materials recovery plant (smelter) must be free from the hazardous materials commonly found in electronics equipment. These include but are not limited to lead, mercury, cadmium, hexavalent chromium, polybrominated biphenyls (PBB) and polybrominated biphenyl ethers. The EU is currently adopting a protocol for the Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive (RoSH) to ease WEEE recycling but the quantity of electronics currently in use means decontamination is still required.
This system shreds inputted WEEE down to a homogenous size (4-8mm), removes the ferrous fraction, separates glass and waste plastics, and uses eddy-current technology to separate the non-ferrous metals fraction; these are then separated according to their density before being chemically washed of the above contaminants and output for reclamation.