Composites can be recycled" seminar told

29 November 2001

Waste is a management issue and waste minimisation is good business. This was the essential message of a seminar on ""Waste Management for the Composites Industry"" organised by the British Plastics Federation Composites Group on Thursday November 15th and attended by delegates from a wide range of the industry's sectors.

Held at the BPF offices, London, this was the first in a series of planned regulatory seminars and covered legislative issues, research advancement and actual composite recycling in Europe.

Dr Mercia Gick, Senior Advisor at the BPF, opened the sessions with an overview of EU legislation affecting the UK composites industry particularly initiatives on used cars and defunct electrical and electronic equipment. Her main theme was the need to convince regulators, governments and industry customers that thermosets were recyclable, a view confirmed by subsequent speakers who went on to demonstrate how composites can be recycled mechanically, chemically and thermally.

Chris Mould of Pera described the novel pyrolysis recycling project currently underway at Pera. This programme was initiated and supported by the automotive industry and the BPF and is funded by the DTI under a LINK programme. He spoke of progress to date and showed examples of some of the useful products obtained.

Another approach to the task of recycling fibre reinforced plastics was then described by Heiner Kluckza-Koss, Managing Director of Ercom (and also Vice-President of GPRMC and President GPRMC waste management working group )which concentrates on providing mechanically recycled thermoset materials to the automotive industry. Details of both the techniques used and the logistics of collection were explained. He informed delegates that production could reach up to 1.5 tonnes per hour, resulting in an output of 4000-5000 tonnes per year.

The afternoon programme comprised of 2 papers from Envirowise, the government backed aid to industry to achieve cost-effective waste management. Dr Robin Kent explained how the reduction of waste was good for profit and he defined waste as 'anything that does not provide added value to the product'. He exhorted delegates to take a fresh look at the seven elements of waste and gave practical examples of cutting costs.

The day rounded up with a detailed summary of the implications for businesses of meeting the recycling and recovery targets of the packaging waste regulation which is currently under review at both UK and EC level. Minimisation of packaging is one of the essential requirements of the directive and this area was fully explored as well as policing of the regulations, with the need to discourage 'free riders' and at the same time meet the requirements of the recycling obligation. Gregor Pennie, Director of Enviromentor Ltd, told delegates that last year there were 31 prosecutions of companies for failure of compliance.

Dr Les Norwood, Chairman of the Composites Group commented: ""The BPF's Composites Group's management committee has identified waste management as a priority issue for the industry and we were pleased to see such a demonstration of support from industry attendees. The value of our trade association activity will bear fruit if the delegates can take away and apply what they have learnt.""

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