13 March 2017
Coolrec, a Renewi subsidiary, has reopened its Recydel site in Liege, Belgium. At the site the WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) recycler reprocesses discarded electronic and electrical equipment into valuable secondary raw materials – over 25,000 tonnes of metals and 13,000 tonnes of plastics per year.
The Recydel site recycles WEEE such as refrigerators using three processes. "The appliances first pass through what we call the depollution line, where all the harmful materials are removed, like coolants from refrigerators and batteries from electronics. Once the cabling has been removed, the electronic devices enter the brown line and the fridges are processed on a separate fridge line" explains Arjen Wittekoek, Director of Coolrec. "An intensive shredding and separation process results in very clean raw material streams. We process the plastics into new raw materials at another Coolrec site, while we sell the steel and aluminum back to industry and all of the precious metals to another processor for further separation. Coolrec isn't just a WEEE processor but also an important supplier of secondary raw materials to contribute to the Circular Economy."
High-value recycling and innovation
Coolrec recycles WEEE such as fridges, computer equipment and (small) domestic appliances. These items are recycled into materials such as high-value plastics, metals and other raw materials. Wittekoek comments: "There is a large proportion of valuable materials in discarded equipment. Using innovative technology allows us to recover specific materials so they can then be reused to manufacture new products. Our circular thinking and our objective is, for instance, to supply raw materials from discarded fridges to produce new ones. Recovering these high-value materials also results directly in a CO2 reduction, allowing us to support our customer’s sustainability objectives. In collaboration with CRM (Centre De Recherches Metallurgiques), we are working to further improve the quality of the secondary raw materials."
Renewi and Coolrec are committed to social responsibility. "Coolrec wants to be continuously adding value to the chain which goes further than reprocessing discarded equipment. We contribute not only within the circular economy but also in terms of social responsibility. Part of this is to create employment opportunities in Wallonia, with particular attention and scope for people who have had problems accessing the employment market," adds Wittekoek. "15 out of over 60 employees at Recydel have also experienced similar difficulties like this. 19% of our entire workforce have historically had problems getting a job so I am delighted that we are able to help these people secure employment."