According to Eurostat, end-of-life vehicles (ELVs) generate 6-7 million tonnes of waste in the EU. The ELV Directive has established clear targets for recycling (85%) and recovery (95%) of vehicles. Old cars, vans and so on are dismantled at shredder facilities, Some 70-75% of the vehicle is ferrous metal, while non-ferrous metals represent about 5%. The remaining 20-25% is known as automotive shredder residue (ASR), aka ‘car fluff’. This is a highly diverse solid waste mixture, typically with a high plastics content, but also containing ferrous and non-ferrous metals, rubber, glass, dust, foam and other materials. This includes hazardous contaminants such as lead, cadmium and petroleum hydrocarbons. As a result ASR is classified as hazardous waste in some countries.
In the EU there are more than 300 facilities producing an estimated 2.34 million tonnes of ASR each year. Around 75% of this residue is landfilled, meaning that more than 1.75 million tonnes of potential resources are lost to the European economy. Current sorting technologies are only able to recover up to 25% of these raw materials, which are mostly used in waste-to-energy processes instead of being recycled.
LIFE PST-SORT will demonstrate an innovative post-shredding technology that can recover secondary raw materials from ASR, with the goal of reducing landfill by around 60%. The projects aims to achieve an 84% recovery rate for the full range of waste streams, including dark plastics, multilayer plastics, small metals (<20mm), metals dirtied with oil, and integrated circuit boards. Some 66% of the ASR will be recycled and 18% will be converted into refuse-derived fuel (RDF).
The full-scale demonstration line will sort 8 tonnes/hour of ASR. The project will evaluate performance and potential for replication, invite stakeholders to see it in action and draw up a business plan for the European market. It will also pass on results to policy-makers in order for them to update the relevant parts of the waste treatment Best Available Techniques Reference document (BREF).
LIFE PST-SORT will contribute to the implementation of the ELV Directive, the Circular Economy Action Plan and the 7th Environment Action Programme. It is fully aligned with the EU waste hierarchy and will support the Waste Shipment Regulation by discouraging the illegal export of end-of-life vehicles. By reducing energy consumption and emissions, the project will support EU climate change, energy and industrial emissions policies.