An analysis of the composition and metal contamination of plastics from waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE)
Journal article, 2013

The compositions of three WEEE plastic batches of different origin were investigated using infrared spectroscopy, and the metal content was determined with inductively coupled plasma. The composition analysis of the plastics was based mainly on 14 samples collected from a real waste stream, and showed that the major constituents were high impact polystyrene (42 wt%), acrylonitrile–butadiene–styrene copolymer (38 wt%) and polypropylene (10 wt%). Their respective standard deviations were 21.4%, 16.5% and 60.7%, indicating a considerable variation even within a single batch. The level of metal particle contamination was found to be low in all samples, whereas wood contamination and rubber contamination were found to be about 1 wt% each in most samples. In the metal content analysis, iron was detected at levels up to 700 ppm in the recyclable waste plastics fraction, which is of concern due to its potential to catalyse redox reactions during melt processing and thus accelerate the degradation of plastics during recycling. Toxic metals were found only at very low concentrations, with the exception of lead and cadmium which could be detected at 200 ppm and 70 ppm levels, respectively, but these values are below the current threshold limits of 1000 ppm and 100 ppm set by the Restriction of Hazardous Substances directive.

Plastics

Composition

WEEE

Author

Erik Stenvall

Chalmers, Materials and Manufacturing Technology, Polymeric Materials and Composites

Sandra Tostar

Chalmers, Chemical and Biological Engineering, Industrial Materials Recycling

Antal Boldizar

Chalmers, Materials and Manufacturing Technology, Polymeric Materials and Composites

Mark Foreman

Chalmers, Chemical and Biological Engineering, Nuclear Chemistry

Kenneth Möller

Chemistry and Materials Technology

Waste Management

0956-053X (ISSN)

Vol. 33 4 915-922

Subject Categories

Textile, Rubber and Polymeric Materials

Areas of Advance

Materials Science

DOI

10.1016/j.wasman.2012.12.022

More information

Latest update

1/30/2018