The SRI publication “Processing of WEEE plastics – A practical handbook” contains the knowledge gathered and materials developed throughout our activities related to plastic valorization and management in the first phase of the SRI Programme. The document is especially addressed to small WEEE recycling businesses in developing and emerging economies and will also serve as training and support material for plastic related activities throughout the second phase of the SRI Programme.

Although being some of the most abundant materials to be recovered from WEEE, plastics are only rarely valorized and worst practices such as uncontrolled dumping and open burning can often be observed. This is mostly due to the low value of mixed plastics and lack of local markets. The example of the informal plastic recycling sector in India shows, however, that these plastics can be sorted into pure fractions manually and reenter local product manufacturing as high quality secondary resources. Based on the experiences made in India, a set of simple methods for plastic identification and sorting has been developed (see publication here) and various training and workshop activities were held in order to transfer this knowledge to recycling sectors in other SRI partner countries (see workshops in Ghana and Columbia).

It is the goal of the SRI Programme to exchange such learnings with the international community and share results as global public goods. Together with the StEP initiative and with financial contributions from SERI, we therefore gathered our plastic knowledge in a practical handbook with open access. The document is structure in five sections which cover the following topics:

  • General information about the main WEEE plastics, common additives and recyclability
  • Simple and accessible methods for plastic identification and sorting with the description of a workflow to systematically identify the main WEEE plastics and remove hazardous fractions.
  • An overview of potential customers and markets
  • General information about process design in WEEE plastics recycling
  • A basic assessment of potential solutions for non-target as well as hazardous plastic fractions.

The handbook is available for download here