Recycling is a truly complex, dynamic problem which comprises a number of stages: collection, separation, sorting and end processing. Each stage has an imperfect process efficiency and if those efficiencies are multiplied together over several use lifetimes, even well-run recycling processes will lead to a material dissipation. Therefore, the limits of recycling performance depend on the optimization of each of these related factors.
The level of sophistication in metal recovery from recyclates can exceed that of geological resources due to their complex composition and structure. The mix of compounds in particles of various origins, from complete devices or parts of them, or any type of by-products, may vary from a single compound to a mix of several compounds.
One of the key topics of Fraunhofer IWKS is the development of new processing technologies that enable the most efficient recovery of secondary raw materials and maximize the mass of liberated particles in a set of recycled material. Due to the heterogeneity of some recyclates, new scalable, praxis-oriented sorting solutions, apart from the classical sorting processes on a physical basis, are being developed at our research facilities.