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07 Feb 2022


Climate & Environment

Author: Chris Slijkhuis ( – January 2022

During the IERC 2022 conference in Salzburg from 18 – 21 January, BSEF organized a workshop about WEEE plastics, consisting of a block with presentations and a block consisting of a discussion round table.

Three topics were presented before a round table discussion took place:
1. The impacts of BFR on the recycling of plastics – Federico Magalini SOFIES
2. BFR Thresholds….the never ending discussion – Chris Slijkhuis EERA
3. Technologies for de-toxifying EEE Waste Streams – Luca Campadello ERION

During the workshop and the subsequent discussion round, several important observations and conclusions were made, and it was agreed that EERA would write a summary of the notes and propositions made during this BSEF workshop, to be published on the EERA and BSEF websites. These notes, summarizing the key findings and conclusions of these discussions, were shared to, and reviewed by several participants of the meeting before being distributed.

The key point of the discussion revolved around the issue of the plastic recycling cycle from WEEE to EEE and how both this can be increased by capacity increases and innovations, and at the same time decreasing the dispersion of POP BFR substances.

The discussions revolved around the following topics:


To stop the dispersion of POP BFRs and reduce their loop, the most effective action is to improve the collection rate of WEEE, as was clearly shown by Federico Magalini in his presentation.
The current officially reported collection rate of WEEE plastics is some 55%.

Of the POP BFR containing plastics officially collected, 98 % are separated, and effectively properly disposed of through official WEEE recycling channels.
The WEEE plastics recycling processes are effective to weed out POP BFRs from the officially collected volumes and only 2% of the collected BFR plastics are recycled and continue to be in the loop towards new products (Sofies Report 2020). These recycled WEEE plastics contain concentrations of POP BFRs, below the legal POP UTC, REACH and RoHS thresholds.

The major flow of plastics that contain BFRs, representing 55% of the mass, does not enter the official WEEE collection and recycling route. This is either entering the wastebin (11%, either entering solid waste incinerators or landfills), or entering the complementary treatment of mainly metal recycling routes for the recovery of ferrous and non-ferrous metals (11%) or the flow with unknown management of the material (33%).

The best way of minimising the risk of restricted POP plastic BFRs is that authorities, producers (through their contracted Extended Producer Responsibility take-back organisations), the recyclers and the population must cooperate in increasing the take-back ratio. From experience and literature, together with public campaigns for awareness, financial fees (when buying) and incentives (when bringing back) seems the best solutions. EERA referred to the paper “Towards an EU WEEE Regulation” that was published during the conference.


To increase the quantity of plastics recovered from WEEE, innovations to recover PA, filled PP, PMMA and PC are needed. These plastics are in the same density ranges as those plastics with BFRs and they are presently lost. Innovations are underway but need time and alliances between producers and recyclers.

Articles are changing, plastics in articles are changing, additives in plastics are changing, and there are different regulations for the same additive, that are also changing with time. The mass of valuable plastic fractions PE and PP (density < 1 g/cm3), ABS and PS (density < 1.1 g/cm3) in WEEE decreases over time, as the developments over the last 15 years have shown.

The recycling ratio can be maintained only by retrieving other non-brominated plastics from the dense fraction, as the graph shows.