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Innovative Hydrometallurgical Processes to recover Metals from WEEE including lamps and batteries (HydroWEEE)
Start date: 01 Mar 2009, End date: 29 Feb 2012 PROJECT  FINISHED 

The recycling business is traditionally dominated by SMEs. In the last 2-3 years a general trend in the electronics recycling sector to bigger companies is very visible. Multinational, multisector companies are buying several smaller recyclers every year. This trend is caused by 2 factors: • Many countries transposed the WEEE- and Battery Directives in a way relying heavily on collective systems. • Also the big secondary raw material processors are more interested in few big contracts instead of a lot of small contracts as this brings down their administrative costs. Therefore it is close to impossible to sell materials with a high metal concentration for SMEs at the moment. Therefore the HydroWEEE project deals with the recovery of base and precious metals from WEEE including lamps and spent batteries by hydrometallurgical processes. The idea is to develop a mobile plant using hydrometallurgical processes to extract metals like Copper (Cu), Manganese (Mn), Zinc (Zn), Yttrium (Y), Indium (In), … in a high purity (above 95%). By making this plant mobile (in a container) several SMEs can benefit from the same plant at different times and therefore limit the necessary quantities of waste as well as investments. In addition this new HydroWEEE process will produce pure enough materials that they can be directly used by end-users for electroplating. Because of this 2 levels of intermediaries from today (bigger recyclers and secondary material processors) will be bypassed. This will make the SMEs much more competitive than today and reverse the general trend to bigger companies. The HydroWEEE consortium has 9 partners from 4 countries - 3 EU Member States (Austria, Romania, Italy) and a Western Balkan Country (Serbia). All in all it has been calculated that HydroWEEE generates a turnover in excess of 100 million € and about 150 interesting work places within the SMEs – approximately 100 times the total cost of the project or 130 times the EU-funding
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