Urban mining

Gold, Silver, Tantalum, Palladium, Copper, Aluminium …

With up to 40 metals contained in electronic assemblies, e-waste can be seen as the future mining to avoid extraction out of ground, recover waste, and fulfill upcoming procurement issue due to rarefaction and increasing demand for those strategic metals.

Eco-Innovation program

Logo EC letras negrasThe initiative CIP Eco-Innovation First Application and Market Replication Projects (CIP Eco-Innovation) is part of the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Programme (EIP) which seeks to support innovation and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the EU. EIP aims at achieving better access to finance for SMEs, at support services for business and innovation delivered through a network of regional centres, at the promotion of entrepreneurship and innovation and at support for policy-making that encourages entrepreneurship and innovation.

The EIP is part of the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP), which aims at encouraging the competitiveness of European Enterprises. With SMEs as its main target, CIP also comprises actions encouraging a better up-take and use of information and communications technologies (ICT) and promotes the increased use of renewable energies and energy efficiency.

With its objective to bridge the gap between research and the market, CIP Eco-innovation contributes to the implementation of the Environmental Technologies Action Plan. Between 2008 and 2014 nearly €200 million will be available to fund projects that promote eco-innovation in Europe.

CIP Eco-Innovation aims to support project concerned to support the first application or market replication of eco-innovative techniques, products, services or practices of Community relevance, which have already been technically demonstrated with success but which, owing to residual risks, have not yet penetrated the market. They should contribute to remove obstacles to the develop0ment and wide application of eco-innovation, create or enlarge markets for related products and improve the competitiveness of EU enterprises on world market. The projects should also aim at reducing environmental impacts, increasing resource efficiency or improve environmental performance of enterprises, in particular SMEs.

The Executive Agency for small and Medium Sized Entreprise (EASME), created by the European Commission in 2003, is the first of a number of new executive agencies to put policies into action more efficiently and with improved results, helping the Commission concentrate on its policy making and institutional tasks. In the execution of the programme, it works in close collaboration with its parent General Directorates: Environment, Energy & Transport and Enterprise.

New industrial process

The amount of WEEE (Waste of electric and electronic equipment) thrown away is increasing by around 20% each year, making it the fastest growing waste stream in Europe. Today, still more than 80% of these WEEE end up in landfills, in rich and developing countries alike, where the lead and other toxins it contains can cause soil and water contamination. Yet, there are valuable constituents in e-wastes and the recovery of these materials could alleviate mining of virgin materials at less than a tenth of the environmental footprint originally needed to extract them as primary sources!
Resources rarefaction, environmental impacts, geopolitics, increasing consumption of electronics, and more and more efficient organizations for collecting waste streams create additional incentives for managing the end-of-life electronic products as key resources, thus moving into the spotlight the need for affordable, efficient and environmental friendly process for metals recovery from e-wastes.
In the past years, high performance capabilities have been built based on hydro- or pyro-metallurgy processes which can recover more than 20 precious and other non-ferrous metals from a wide range of input materials. However, with their costs of several hundreds of millions Euros, their high energetic processes and their limited capability to deal with Printed Circuit Boards Assemblies (PCBAs cannot count for more than 15% of the in-wastes streams), they cannot be seen as sustainable and competitive solutions to deal with the (2 million tons of e-wastes) 500 000 tons of PCBAs still lost for Europe every year1. Indeed, their processing solution and cost make them very selective to high grade materials leaving aside lower grade ones.
The Start-Up BIGARREN BIZI was set up with the ambition to bridge the gap between these high-end but very selective e-wastes recovering solutions and those more widespread recycling processes which can extract base materials because in large quantity in e-wastes while simultaneously jeopardizing any opportunity to recover the more precious but less concentrated metals.
The NIREA recycling solution is a low-cost, environmental friendly and highly flexible process aimed at retrieving the maximum value from medium or low graded End-of-Life Printed Circuit Boards batches while offering the best possible compromise from an overall life-cycle point of view. It does not make any use of chemical reagent or thermal techniques but rely on the implementation of a smart and innovative mechanical separation process which takes place after the e-wastes are grinded into powders at the micron range. An on-line characterisation measurement allows to adapt the separation process strategy as a function of each batch materials’ constitution.
With a targeted investment cost of 2M€ for a 10 tons-a- day plant capacity, the BIGARREN BIZI process represents a very cost effective solution to be replicated at a macro regional level, nearby waste collecting facilities, for an even more positive overall life-cycle optimisation.

State of the art : E-waste

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The amount of WEEE (Waste of electric and electronic equipment) thrown away is increasing by around 20% each year, making it the fastest growing waste stream in Europe. Today, still more than 80% of these WEEE end up in landfills, in rich and developing countries alike, where the lead and other toxins it contains can cause soil and water contamination. Yet, there are valuable constituents in e-wastes and the recovery of these materials could alleviate mining of virgin materials at less than a tenth of the environmental footprint originally needed to extract them as primary sources!

CONSORTIUM

NIREA TM is a low-cost, environmental friendly and highly flexible metal recovery process able to retrieve the maximum value from medium or low graded end-of-life PCBAs.
The consortium has been built to mobilize all the fields of expertise which are deemed necessary for enabling a market replication.

4 companies shared their ressources and expertise to reach that target : BIGARREN BIZI, GAIKER, IVEA & BOSTLAN

schema-consortium-nirea

BIGARREN BIZI GAIKER BOSTLAN IVEA