Sustainable Management of the Plastic-Rich Fraction of WEEE by Utilization as a Reducing Agent in Metallurgical Processes

Document identifier:
Access full text here:10.3390/app9204224
Keyword: Engineering and Technology, Materials Engineering, Metallurgy and Metallic Materials, Teknik och teknologier, Materialteknik, Metallurgi och metalliska material, Shredder residue material, Plastic, Metallurgical process, Sustainable management, Conversion characteristics, Process Metallurgy, Processmetallurgi
Publication year: 2019
Relevant Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs):
SDG 12 Responsible consumption and productionSDG 11 Sustainable cities and communitiesSDG 7 Affordable and clean energy
The SDG label(s) above have been assigned by


In modern society, there is a fast growth in the production of electrical and electronic equipment (EEE); however, rapid growth results in the frequent discarding of this equipment. During the treatment of discarded materials, a stream is generated that contains a high fraction of plastic materials, but also metals and oxides. This stream, which is called shredder residue material (SRM), is heterogeneous, which limits its recycling options. Utilizing this material in metallurgical processes allows the plastic fraction to be used as a reductant and energy source and the metallic fraction to be recycled and returned to the production of EEE. The aim of this study was to evaluate the potential of plastic-containing materials, especially SRM, as alternative reductants in metallurgical processes. The first step was to compare the thermal conversion characteristics of plastic-containing materials to the currently used reducing agent, i.e., coal. Three main candidates, polyurethane (PUR), polyethylene (PE), and SRM, were studied using a drop tube furnace and an optical single-particle burner. PE had the highest volatile content and the fastest conversion time, whereas PUR had the longest conversion time. Thereafter, plastic materials were tested at the industrial scale through injection to the zinc fuming process at the Boliden Rönnskär smelter. During the industrial trial, the amount of coal that was injected was reduced and substituted with plastic material. The results indicate the possibility of reducing the coal injection rate in favor of partial substitution with plastic materials.


Samira Lotfian

Boliden Mineral AB, Boliden, Sweden
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Andreas Lennartsson

Luleå tekniska universitet; Mineralteknik och metallurgi
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Ari Jokilaakso

School of Chemical Engineering, Department of Chemical and Metallurgical Engineering, Aalto University, Aalto, Finland
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