The Philips global Headquarter in Amsterdam was the scene of a technical Workshop called “Circular design of electrical and electronic equipment: The post-consumer recycled plastics challenge.”
More than 40 participants, representing the entire electronics value chain in the EU, came together for an interactive workshop to discuss best practice examples for integrating Post-Consumer Recycled (PCR) plastics produced from electronic waste back into aesthetically appealing applications and in products with high requirements on the material properties. In line with the European Commission’s Strategy for Plastics in the Circular Economy, PolyCE is set to enable inclusion of post-consumer recycled plastics into new electronic products and in doing so lead the way towards adoption of circular plastics on the mass consumer market.
PolyCE stands for Post-Consumer High-Tech Recycled Polymers for a Circular Economy and this EU funded initiative tackles the issue of the “missing link” in the Circular Economy. The project partners showcased how electronic products should best be designed to be easier and more effectively recycled and discussed how plastics recycled from WEEE can best be used in new electronic appliances.
The positive dynamics of this PolyCE workhop shows how the missing link in the circular economy can be closed — this is not wishful thinking anymore. Chris Slijkhuis, Board Member of the European Electronics Recyclers Association (EERA)
The partners of this EU funded project consist of OEM producers such as Philips and Whirlpool, researchers from Fraunhofer IZM, Technical University of Berlin, University of Ghent and KU Leuven , several design houses such as Pezy Group, the Imagination Factory as well as WEEE collection and recycling organizations such as ECODOM, MGG Polymers and the PCR plastics compounder Sitraplas.
The event showcased the potential behind designing with recycled plastics in the context of new electric and electronic equipment (EEE). The workshop delivered convincing and economically sound arguments on why the use of PCR plastics makes not only environmental, but also business sense.
“As external invitee to the workshop, I was impressed by the level of knowledge and commitment by participants to reduce the use of virgin plastics by the uptake of post consumer recycled polymers. We learned how all steps in the plastics value chain have their challenges and how the partners in the project are seeking to overcome those. The practical examples, from the way of target setting at large companies, up until the application of high tech recycled polymers in small appliances were inspirational and look promising.” Kurt Van der Herten, EU Environmental Policy Program Manager, IBM Corporate Environmental Affairs
The PolyCE partners presented best practice examples for integrating recycled plastics in demanding EEE applications. They also looked at the different types of products and wastes.
A major way to boost the market for recycled plastics is to encourage companies to use more recycled plastics in their products. However, alongside sourcing and stability over time, the use of PCR plastics in EEE needs to take into account that the technical characteristics of the materials are slightly different. Exchanging experiences therefore is a critical success factor throughout the different design stages.
The “dEEEterminator” injection moulding tool, developed by Ghent University, provides additional support to product developers in the design decisions. The tool offers a wide variety of features that need to be taken into account — surface texture, connecting mechanisms, physical characteristics and so forth and presents convincing test samples of the various polymers that are currently recycled.
Various working groups brainstormed around new designs using PCR plastics and the main take-away was that most barriers can be overcome.
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