A new management scheme of plastics from waste of electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE), which includes novel treatments of sorting, dissolution/precipitation, extrusion, catalytic pyrolysis, and plastic upgrading, is proposed. Its environmental performances are quantified by an attributional Life Cycle Assessment and compared with those of European currently adopted schemes, which include conventional mechanical recycling and thermal treatments as well as improper options of dumping and open burning, largely applied to WEEE plastics exported to developing countries. The proposed innovative scheme greatly enhances the environmental sustainability of WEEE plastics management, by increasing the annual amounts of polymers sent to recycling (from 390 kt/y up to 530 kt/y), decreasing residues to be sent to combustion (from 360 kt/y up to 60 kt/y), and reducing the potential impacts of all the midpoint categories under analysis (up to 580% for that of Global Warming). These results are mainly related to the adoption of a dissolution/precipitation process, which allows recovering target polymers such as ABS, HIPS and PC, with improvements in terms of Global Warming, Non-Carcinogens, and Carcinogens equal to 246%, 69% and 35%, even when the stages of polymer upgrading and catalytic pyrolysis are not included in the analysis. The sensitivity analysis shows that advantages of the new approach substantially disappear if the awful contributions of exportation outside Europe are taken into account. This clearly indicates that the first step to enhance the sustainability of WEEE plastics management is a strong limitation of improper treatments applied to exported wastes.

A new management scheme of plastics from waste of electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE), which includes novel treatments of sorting, dissolution/precipitation, extrusion, catalytic pyrolysis, and plastic upgrading, is proposed. Its environmental performances are quantified by an attributional Life Cycle Assessment and compared with those of European currently adopted schemes, which include conventional mechanical recycling and thermal treatments as well as improper options of dumping and open burning, largely applied to WEEE plastics exported to developing countries. The proposed innovative scheme greatly enhances the environmental sustainability of WEEE plastics management, by increasing the annual amounts of polymers sent to recycling (from 390 kt/y up to 530 kt/y), decreasing residues to be sent to combustion (from 360 kt/y up to 60 kt/y), and reducing the potential impacts of all the midpoint categories under analysis (up to 580% for that of Global Warming). These results are mainly related to the adoption of a dissolution/precipitation process, which allows recovering target polymers such as ABS, HIPS and PC, with improvements in terms of Global Warming, Non-Carcinogens, and Carcinogens equal to 246%, 69% and 35%, even when the stages of polymer upgrading and catalytic pyrolysis are not included in the analysis. The sensitivity analysis shows that advantages of the new approach substantially disappear if the awful contributions of exportation outside Europe are taken into account. This clearly indicates that the first step to enhance the sustainability of WEEE plastics management is a strong limitation of improper treatments applied to exported wastes.

How to enhance the environmental sustainability of WEEE plastics management: An LCA study

Ardolino F.
;
Cardamone G. F.;Arena U.
2021

Abstract

A new management scheme of plastics from waste of electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE), which includes novel treatments of sorting, dissolution/precipitation, extrusion, catalytic pyrolysis, and plastic upgrading, is proposed. Its environmental performances are quantified by an attributional Life Cycle Assessment and compared with those of European currently adopted schemes, which include conventional mechanical recycling and thermal treatments as well as improper options of dumping and open burning, largely applied to WEEE plastics exported to developing countries. The proposed innovative scheme greatly enhances the environmental sustainability of WEEE plastics management, by increasing the annual amounts of polymers sent to recycling (from 390 kt/y up to 530 kt/y), decreasing residues to be sent to combustion (from 360 kt/y up to 60 kt/y), and reducing the potential impacts of all the midpoint categories under analysis (up to 580% for that of Global Warming). These results are mainly related to the adoption of a dissolution/precipitation process, which allows recovering target polymers such as ABS, HIPS and PC, with improvements in terms of Global Warming, Non-Carcinogens, and Carcinogens equal to 246%, 69% and 35%, even when the stages of polymer upgrading and catalytic pyrolysis are not included in the analysis. The sensitivity analysis shows that advantages of the new approach substantially disappear if the awful contributions of exportation outside Europe are taken into account. This clearly indicates that the first step to enhance the sustainability of WEEE plastics management is a strong limitation of improper treatments applied to exported wastes.
A new management scheme of plastics from waste of electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE), which includes novel treatments of sorting, dissolution/precipitation, extrusion, catalytic pyrolysis, and plastic upgrading, is proposed. Its environmental performances are quantified by an attributional Life Cycle Assessment and compared with those of European currently adopted schemes, which include conventional mechanical recycling and thermal treatments as well as improper options of dumping and open burning, largely applied to WEEE plastics exported to developing countries. The proposed innovative scheme greatly enhances the environmental sustainability of WEEE plastics management, by increasing the annual amounts of polymers sent to recycling (from 390 kt/y up to 530 kt/y), decreasing residues to be sent to combustion (from 360 kt/y up to 60 kt/y), and reducing the potential impacts of all the midpoint categories under analysis (up to 580% for that of Global Warming). These results are mainly related to the adoption of a dissolution/precipitation process, which allows recovering target polymers such as ABS, HIPS and PC, with improvements in terms of Global Warming, Non-Carcinogens, and Carcinogens equal to 246%, 69% and 35%, even when the stages of polymer upgrading and catalytic pyrolysis are not included in the analysis. The sensitivity analysis shows that advantages of the new approach substantially disappear if the awful contributions of exportation outside Europe are taken into account. This clearly indicates that the first step to enhance the sustainability of WEEE plastics management is a strong limitation of improper treatments applied to exported wastes.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11591/455364
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