Recycling of WEEE and photovoltaic panels: achieve optimal material separation with FOR REC

What is WEEE and why it is important to recycle it

Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) includes all household and industrial electrical and electronic devices that, once they reach the end of their life, must be properly disposed of to avoid serious environmental consequences.

The growing production and consumption of electronic equipment results in a significant increase in WEEE, which includes devices such as refrigerators, washing machines, televisions, computers, and small household appliances.

Recycling WEEE is vital for several reasons. First, WEEE contains dangerous materials, such as mercury, lead, and cadmium, which can cause soil and water pollution if disposed improperly. Second, recycling allows the recovery of valuable materials such as gold, copper, and aluminum, reducing the need to extract new natural resources. Finally, recycling WEEE helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption, promoting more sustainable waste management.

Treatment of household appliances, electronic equipment, TVs and displays

FOR REC has designed special, high-performance machines for the treatment of WEEE, with innovative solutions for the recycling of household appliances and electronic equipment. The treatment of these wastes integrates manpower with advanced automation, ensuring maximum valorization of all components and minimizing waste and environmental impact.

The recycling process consists of several stages:

  1. Initial manual sorting: this stage involves manual control of the incoming material stream to ensure that only suitable items are processed.
  2. Device opening: using two special blade shredders, the devices are opened without damaging the recoverable components. This step is crucial to preserve the quality of the materials to be recycled.
  3. Separation of roughly-sized components: the machines reduce the product into coarse pieces by sorting out the bulkiest parts such as electrical cables, hard disks and electronic boards.
  4. Final chunking stage: this stage is fully automatic and involves homogeneous 30mm chunking of previously unsorted material.
  5. Material separation: finally, the material is separated into three main fractions: ferrous metals, nonferrous metals and plastics.

FOR REC has been building WEEE recycling lines for years all over the world, designing modular and tailor-made plants that can be adapted to specific customer needs and implemented with increasingly precise material separation systems.

Thanks to continuous machine optimizations and ongoing investment in R&D, FOR REC's industrial recycling machines operate at low RPM. This makes it possible, especially in the initial stage, to open devices without damaging recoverable components.
In addition, all lines are complemented by soundproof panels and vacuum systems to comply with current regulations in terms of sound levels and dust emissions.

Equipment for the treatment of refrigeration and air conditioning appliances

The treatment of refrigerators, boilers, and refrigeration appliances requires a specific approach because of dangerous materials such as gas, oil, and polyurethane, which release harmful substances if not handled properly.

Due to its strong experience in the field, FOR REC holds important know-how regarding the treatment of refrigerators. Indeed, among its various completed projects, it also boasts the largest WEEE recycling plant in Europe, capable of processing up to 100 refrigerators per hour.

The disposal process consists of several stages:

  1. Initial cleanup: removal of the engine and separation of the oil and gas contained in the coolant circuit. This step is essential to prevent the dispersion of harmful substances.
  2. Shredding: refrigerants are shredded to a homogeneous size of 30 mm. This allows easy handling and subsequent separation of materials.
  3. Material separation: ferrous and nonferrous metals are recovered through an advanced magnet system to ensure maximum efficiency in metal recovery.
  4. Grinding: the remaining material is further reduced to a size of 5 mm, with technologies that separate plastic, copper and aluminum by taking advantage of the different specific weights.
  5. Vacuum and filter: CFC is released during polyurethane grinding, which is vacuumed and fully recovered.
  6. Dust control and filtering: the machine also takes care of controlling and filtering the dust emitted during the recycling process.
  7. Compressing and pelletizing: finally, the polyurethane is compacted and pelletized to make it inert, thus avoiding the emission of harmful gases.

This refrigerator recycling system involves a production cycle aimed at the valorization of the product itself. Thanks to FOR REC industrial machines and shredders, in fact, it is possible to process all the components of refrigerators without any impact on the environment, separating the different materials and obtaining a clean and compact final product.

The real strength of FOR REC is the customization of each system.
Due to scrupulous attention to detail, we make custom machines according to individual customer requirements.
An example? In some countries in the French overseas territory (Reunion Islands and Guadeloupe), customers have opted for hybrid recycling lines. Thus, the same facility is used for all types of WEEE (including refrigerators).
In this case, we developed a recycling line capable of activating gas recovery only when necessary. The choice stemmed from a customer request, given the limited number of refrigerators on the island, which did not justify the use of a dedicated plant.

Equipment for the Treatment of Photovoltaic Panels

The recycling of photovoltaic panels is becoming increasingly relevant as the diffusion of these technologies increases. For this reason, FOR REC has developed a specific line for the treatment of photovoltaic panels, capable of separating the main components and recovering: aluminum (from panel frames and structures), magnetic metals, inert fraction, ethylene vinyl acetate, and non-magnetic metals from wiring and connectors.

Steps in the PV panel treatment process include:

  1. Tearing: panels are initially treated with an LC 1800 multi-crusher, followed by manual sorting of connectors and harnesses.
  2. Initial screening: initial inert fractions are screened to facilitate subsequent steps.
  3. Shredding: a TQ 1800 four-shaft shredder further reduces materials with a 50-mm screen.
  4. Magnetic separation: magnetic metal separation is carried out.
  5. Parasitic current separation: this step enables the selection of non-magnetic metals such as aluminum frames.
  6. Screening: additional inert fractions are released and cleaned, ensuring an excellent final product.
  7. Final EVA cleaning: crucial step to permanently remove any remaining inert contaminants.

Sustainable waste recycling with FOR REC

Recycling WEEE is a key aspect of sustainable waste management, reducing environmental impact and recovering valuable materials. FOR REC, with its advanced WEEE and solar panel solutions, demonstrates an ongoing commitment to innovation and sustainability.
With its modular, tailor-made recycling plants, FOR REC contributes significantly to waste reduction and component valorization through ultra-efficient, low-power machines that reduce treatment costs while maintaining high performance.

Through solutions that combine efficiency and innovation, FOR REC has been working alongside major industry players for years to meet the challenges of WEEE recycling, ensuring flawless and sustainable processing.

Would you like to get more information about WEEE and photovoltaic panel treatment plants?

Contact us for a free consultation!