Loose pieces inside the appliance (trays, cables, fluorescent lamps, etc.) are removed before being placed on the conveyor belt. The de-pollution process is made easier this way as it also allows the recycling of plastic parts inside the appliance.
Next they are taken through the following recycling stages:
1. Oil & gas removal: The extraction unit perforates the cooling circuit to remove in a separate manner the mixture of oil and cooling gas.At this stage, only 30% of cooling gases contained in the appliance are removed.
These greenhouse-type gases cause global warming and it is important to ensure their complete removal from the cooling system and the compressor.
2. Removal of the compressor. Once the circuit has been emptied, the compressor is removed from the appliance.
3. Shredding and removal of cooling gases contained in the polyurethane (PUR) foam.
The appliance is then taken to the shredder. The shredding tower, nine metre tall, is the core of the recycling process. It is made up of a primary shredder, also known as pre-shredder, which reduces the fridge to pieces of approximately 4 cm in size. A second shredder, or main shredder, reduces the material again until it has a size of about 2.5 cm. Furthermore, the tower is injected with nitrogen to avoid explosions. 70% of greenhouse-type gases are inside the PUR foam that insulates the walls of the appliances. Thanks to the sealed atmosphere inside the chamber, all gases released during the shredding process are captured. They are stored for further processing.
4. Separation of ferrous metals and handling of PUR foam
A magnet separates iron from the rest of material. It is stored until it is shipped to an iron foundry. The gas is removed from the PUR foam by suction machinery before being taken to a pellet-making machine which extracts the remaining gases.
5. Separation of non-ferrous metals and plastics
An Eddy current is used to separate aluminium and copper from plastics. As a result we obtain high quality raw materials that are ready for sale in the international market.
6. Turning the PUR foam into pellets
PUR foams from the grinding process are compressed by a pellet-making machine to finalize the removal of all cooling gases.
This line has a treatment capacity of 40 appliances per hour, reaching a 99.8% de-pollution level.
This type of WEEE is sent by conveyor belt to a pre-shredder for dismantling. It has a dust extraction system to remove air pollutants. The pre-shredder can process up to 5,000 kilos per hour.
2. Manual classification
Eight plant workers manually separate the following components:
· Printed circuit boards
· Transformers and capacitors
· Toner cartridges
· Other hazardous items
The de-polluted material is sent to the shredding tower to further reduce the WEEE.After shredding, the material will be separated automatically into ferrous metals (4) and non-ferrous metals from plastics (5).
The line that processes TV and monitors has a capacity of 30 appliances per hour. It is divided into two parts:
1. Manual dismantling
The appliances are dismantled manually. Cables, cases, circuit boards, capacitors and copper coils are separated and placed into special containers.
2. Removal of glass and phosphorous
A hot rod is used to separate the cone from the front screen. This process is carried out in a cabin with a suction system that captures the phosphorous inside the screen, storing it in tanks for delivery to appropriate waste management facilities.
I.T. equipment goes to a manual dismantling line to separate each of its components: memory, printed circuit boards, CD and hard drives for their destruction.